Your Cancer Risk by Losing Weight
We hear it all the time
lose weight for
your health. Few people however, realize the
extent to which this is critical to their physical
well-being and ultimately their life expectancy.
Even fewer realize the link between obesity
and many forms of cancer.
A recent study published in the Journal of
the American Medical Association found that
obesity appears to lessen life expectancy, especially
among young adults. The researchers compared
Body-Mass Index (BMI) to longevity and found
a correlation between premature death and higher
BMIs. For example, a 20-year-old white male,
5'10" weighing 288 pounds with a BMI of
greater than 40 was estimated to lose 13 years
of his life as a result of obesity.
Jamie McManus, M.D., F.A.A.F.P. and author
of Your Personal Guide to Wellness notes that
while this study referenced extreme levels of
obesity, there are still millions of overweight
people in developed countries with a life expectancy
rate that is three to five years less than their
healthy-weight counterparts. She also estimates
that there are 600,000 obesity related deaths
each year in America.
Just how does obesity shorten our lifespan?
The answer to this question is complex, yet
there is a clear link between obesity and the
development of cancer. An extensive study conducted
by the American Cancer Institute involving 750,000
people showed that obesity significantly increased
the risk of the following: breast cancer, colon
cancer, ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, pancreatic
cancer, kidney cancer, gallbladder cancer.
Michael Thun, MD, vice-president of epidemiology
and surveillance research for the American Cancer
Society (ACS) says one reason obesity may raise
cancer risk is because fat cells produce a form
of estrogen called estradiol that promotes rapid
division of cells, increasing chances of a random
genetic error while cells are replicating, which
can lead to cancer. In addition, fat centered
around the abdomen may increase insulin and
insulin-like growth factors in the blood, which
may increase cancer risk.
"Women who are obese after menopause have
a 50% higher relative risk of breast cancer,"
notes Thun. "Obese men have a 40% higher
relative risk of colon cancer
and endometrial cancer risks are five times
higher for obese individuals."
Also, cancer rates in developed countries are
increasing at 5 to 15 times faster than developing
countries. A major contributor has proven to
be diet. In populations where the diet consists
mostly of fresh fruit and vegetables and whole
grains - in contrast to the typical Western
diet of fatty meats, refined flours, oils and
sugars - the risk of cancer is much lower.
The interaction of diet and the development
of cancer is an active field of research. Dr.
David Heber, M.D., Ph.D. and author of What
Color is Your Diet, says, "It appears that
diet has its most significant effects after
the cancer has already formed, acting to inhibit
or stimulate the growth of that cancer."
At the risk of oversimplifying a complex set
of interactions, the typical Western diet that
leads to obesity may actually stimulate the
growth of cancer cells.
It is never too late to improve your health
through healthful eating and adopting a more
health-giving lifestyle. Here are simple steps
to follow which can make an immediate improvement
to your health and vitality.
Weight Loss Tips for Reducing Cancer Risk
Being overweight or obese has been identified,
next to smoking, as the most preventable major
risk to developing cancer. Even small weight
losses have been shown to have beneficial health
effects. So it's never too late to start and
you can never be too young or too old to be
concerned about your health and do something
about achieving a more healthy weight.
Copyright Kim Beardsmore.
Kim Beardsmore enjoys the
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