Stay lean to reduce cancer risk
We talk off and on about the health risks of carrying excess body weight, especially in the belly area. The American Cancer Society has noted for years that as many as 20 percent of all cancer deaths may be related to excess weight. Now additional data from the U.S. Women’s Health Initiative that followed 74,000 women from the ages of 50 to70 for over 20 years has found additional interesting information about excess weight and cancer risk. Over the duration of this large study, 6,300 women developed cancer.
The number of years that a woman is either obese or overweight is important. For every 10 years a woman is obese, there is a 10 percent higher risk for developing cancer. For every 10 years that a woman is overweight, her cancer risk 7 percent higher.
Excess weight seemed to have the greatest impact on the development of four types of cancer:
This study did not prove that excess weight causes cancer but it did show an association between body fat and cancer. The researchers are not sure why excess body fat may influence cancer cell development, but they do know that excess weight does impact levels of the sex hormones such as estrogen. Also excess weight contributes to inflammation in the body and that, in turn, creates an environment that is ripe for cancer cell development.
Bottom line: The more years a women is overweight or obese, the greater her cancer risk. It is not too late to get weight down for health improvement. Put into place the basics:
- Enjoy a daily walk
- Drink water – lots
- Keep an eye on your portions of food
- Have most meals prepared from scratch at home
- Enjoy menus that are plant-based
Recipes to try:
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.