Cancer cases in women will rise almost six times faster than cancer cases in men, according to new research from Cancer Research UK. 

The troubling statistic is in relation to an increase in unhealthy habits such as smoking and obesity causing a rise in men’s cancers by half a percent and in women’s cancers by 6% over the next 20 years.

The increase in incidence will result in an estimated 4.5 million women and 4.8 million men diagnosed with cancer by 2035.

The gender discrepancy is thought to in part relate to an increase in female-specific cancers linked with obesity, including womb, ovarian and certain types of breast cancer. Male-specific cancers linked with obesity are fewer in number.

In 2014, more than half of women (58%) and men (65%) in England were either overweight or obese, according to the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC).

Smoking-related cancers in women are also rising faster because of a later historical uptake in the habit than men.

“These new figures reveal the huge challenge we continue to face, both in the UK and worldwide,” said Sir Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive. “Research is at the heart of finding ways to reduce cancer’s burden and ensure more people survive, particularly for hard-to-treat cancers where the outlook for patients is still bleak.

“We need to keep working hard to reduce the devastating impact cancer can have on so many families.”

The global burden of cancer now sits at around 7.4 million men and 6.7 million women diagnosed with the disease each year. The disease claims more lives every year than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined.

“With more investment into research, we hope to make big improvements over the next 20 years in diagnosing the disease earlier and improving and developing treatments so that by 2034, three in four people will survive their disease,” said Kumar.