Fat Chance - Study Shows Obesity Causes Cancer
In addition to worrying about adding an extra notch to your belt when you order a bacon double cheeseburger, a group of renowned scientists is warning people that cancer should be a primary concern when choosing which foods to savor and which to scrap. As if the well-known health problems associated with obesity – namely heart disease and diabetes – aren’t enough, a recent study entitled Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: A Global Perspective presents years of research and analysis to demonstrate a solid link between obesity and cancer.
Over the last 10 years, the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research have been working to educate the public and policymakers about the importance of nutrition to cancer prevention by reviewing and assessing evidence related to diet, physical activity, and cancer. While these findings are not necessarily earth-shattering with regard to the effects of diet on health or the ills of obesity, they are presented gravely enough that they may inspire more people to heed their doctors’ warnings about weight gain, diet, and exercise.
The Skinny on the Study
The report shows that excess body fat and the consumption of alcohol, red meat, and processed foods can cause numerous types of cancers, from breast to colon, kidney, and esophagus. While many doctors, nutritionists, and scientists are hailing the WCRF / AICR report, some critics point out that, although the rate of obesity has risen over recent years, deaths from cancer have decreased. However, many others attribute the increased survival rates among cancer patients to improved cancer screening, diagnosis, and treatment.
Although cancer is a disease that involves the mutation of genes over the course of a person’s lifetime, the WCRF / AICR report shows that only a small percentage of cancers are inherited, meaning that modifications to environmental factors are the most important preventive measures we can take in the fight against the deadly disease. The study suggests that, to the extent that factors such as food, nutrition, and physical activity influence the risk of cancer, it is a preventable disease. The good news is that, with some healthy lifestyle choices, you can control your odds for developing certain cancers.
Food for Thought – 10 Tips to Fight Cancer
The WCRF / AICR report includes 10 useful recommendations to help reduce the risk of cancer:
1. Stay lean – aim for the lower end of what’s considered normal for your body mass index.
2. Be physically active in your daily life.
3. Limit consumption of high-calorie foods and sugary drinks. Consume fast foods sparingly, if at all.
4. Eat mostly foods of plant origin – that means eat your “five a day” of non-starchy vegetables and fruits. Eat relatively unprocessed grains and/or legumes with every meal, and limit refined starchy foods.
5. Limit your intake of red meat and avoid processed meat – you should consume less than 500 g (18 oz) of red meat per week.
6. Limit alcoholic drinks – that means no more than two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women.
7. Avoid salt-preserved, salted, or salty foods – limit consumption of processed foods with added salt to ensure an intake of less than 6 g (2.4 g sodium) a day and do not eat moldy grains or legumes.
8. Aim to meet nutritional needs through diet alone. Dietary supplements are not recommended for cancer prevention.
9. Mothers should breastfeed – this is good for both mother and child.
10. Cancer survivors should follow doctors’ recommendations for cancer prevention regarding diet, healthy weight, and physical activity.
If you are located near San Diego, obesity surgery specialists at Surgical Associates of La Jolla and La Jolla Weight Management can help you evaluate your options. Their team of oncologists in San Diego are deeply committed to providing the highest level of oncologic care available.
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