Being overweight at age 20 increases the chances of being obese by age 50. And gaining 40 pounds or more by age 50 increases risk for esophageal cancer and stomach cancer.

Keep it lean as you age

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We know that aging brings about many changes to our body, often including weight gain. There are many reasons for this middle-years weight gain, including:

  • Less energy or time for exercise
  • Eating out more often as we become financially stable or as life gets a bit crazy
  • Drinking too many calorie-containing beverages like specialty coffees and sodas
  • An aging-related decrease in metabolism

Lots of health issues can arise with the weight gain and researchers have found an interesting association between obesity in later life and increased risk for certain cancers.

This study included data on 400,000 folks. Being overweight at age 20 increased the chances of being obese by age 50. And gaining 40 pounds or more by age 50 increased risk for esophageal cancer and stomach cancer.

The researchers are not sure why there was increased risk for these two cancers with obesity but they think that the accelerated rates of acid reflux from the stomach up the esophagus was one reason. The acid irritates the delicate tissue lining the esophagus, and this irritation may lead to cancer cell development.  Also, carrying extra body fat can alter hormonal production, resulting in increased insulin levels and inflammation – both of which are associated with increased cancer risk.

The other problem with these two particular cancers is that they are often diagnosed at a later stage, and so the survival outcome is a bit grim. So as best you can, go through life at a healthy weight. Forty pounds and more is really a hazard to your health once you hit the age of 50.

Recipes to try:

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About the Author

Rita Smith is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She's been working in the field of nutrition and disease prevention for more than 35 years and currently works at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, Va. Each week, Rita provides nutrition counseling to clients who have a variety of disorders or diseases including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, gastroparesis and weight management. For these clients, food choices can help them manage their health problems.