Can Being Overweight Put You at Greater Risk for Cancer?
We all know, by now, that being overweight puts you
at increased risk for heart disease, stroke and diabetes. The truth is that the link between obesity and cancer is just as
strong but is less well known. There are lots of factors at play in how and who gets cancer but the Canadian Cancer Society
suggests that about half of all cancers are preventable by making some simple lifestyle changes. Comfortingly putting some
control back into your hands. And, on the bright side, you now have one more motivation keep your weight at bay.
Obesity is associated with increased risks of the following cancer
types. There may be others whose causal link has not been established (but give it time...) • Esophagus • Pancreas • Colon and rectum • Breast (after menopause) • Endometrium (lining of the uterus) • Kidney • Thyroid • Gallbladder
study, using NCI Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) data, estimated that in 2007 in the United States, about
34,000 new cases of cancer in men (4 percent) and 50,500 in women (7 percent) were due to obesity. The percentage of cases
attributed to obesity varied widely for different cancer types but was as high as 40 percent for some cancers, particularly
endometrial cancer and esophageal adenocarcinoma." (National Cancer Institute) It is estimated that if every adult reduced
their BMI by 1 percent, (which is about a pound or 2.2 kg), it would prevent the increase in the number of cancer cases and
actually result in the avoidance of about 100,000 new cases of cancer. This study is in its infancy but several good
theories explain why there is such a link:
tissue produces excess amounts of estrogen, high levels of which have been associated with the risk of breast, endometrial,
and some other cancers.
• Obese people
often have increased levels of insulin and insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) in their blood (a condition known as hyperinsulinemia
or insulin resistance), which may promote the development of certain tumors.
• Fat cells produce hormones, called adipokines that may stimulate or inhibit cell
growth. For example, leptin, which is more abundant in obese people, seems to promote cell proliferation, whereas adiponectin,
which is less abundant in obese people, may have antiproliferative effects.
• Obese people often have chronic low-level inflammation which has been associated
with increased cancer risk. (National Cancer Institute)
is no surprise, then, that the recommendations for weight loss or healthy weight maintenance are the SAME as those for preventing
cancer. Cancer affects everyone and there are a myriad of ways that it is out of your hands but it just makes sense to control
what you can. Here is what you can do:
a healthy body weight. Keep your BMI between 18.5 and 24.9. Lose whatever excess weight it takes to stay within this range.
• Quit smoking! Know that tobacco
and alcohol together are worse for you than either one on its own. And that calories from alcohol can't be used as energy,
they can only be stored as fat. o Women should drink less than 1 drink a day and men less than 2 drinks a day. o A
"drink" is: one 350mL (12 oz) bottle of beer (5% alcohol) or one 145mL (5 oz) glass of wine (12% alcohol) or one
45mL (1.5 oz) shot of spirits (40% alcohol)
10 servings of fruits and veggies every single day
25-35 grams of fibre each day (actually track your intake once in a while for a baseline!)
• Get at least 30 minutes
of moderate activity every day. In addition to protecting against colon cancer, research shows that women may be able to reduce
their risk of breast cancer and uterine cancer by getting active. For the good of all, do what you can to find a way
to support cancer research and treatment, the Canadian Cancer Society holds all kinds of fun events to bring awareness, information
and raise funds.( I am personally going to fun shaving the heads of cops! Click here to find out more or donate
THERESA ALBERT, DHN, RNCP, is a registered nutritional
consulting practitioner with a busy private practice in Toronto. Her new book Ace Your Health: 52 Ways to Stack Your
Deck (McClelland & Stewart) is a fun, practical guide to making healthy, weekly changes for improved health
using morsels of information and tasty, healthy recipes. Her television show "Just One Bite" aired on the Food Network
for over two years in a daily time slot and introduced her energetic style to millions. She is also the author of Cook
Once a Week, Eat Well Every Day. Theresa is a recognizable news media and online face as a resource for consumers and
marketers who seek to remove the bologna from their lunchboxes and their news. She prepares a free weekly newsletter
to make you laugh, eat well and be inspiredwww.myfriendinfood.com