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The Link Between Obesity and Cancer

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Cancer: it’s an ugly word and a devastating diagnosis. An estimated 1.6 million people will be diagnosed with cancer this year alone. Whether it’s a parent, spouse, child, colleague or friend, most of us know someone who is battling or has battled cancer.

Of course, the more you understanding about cancer, the better you can limit or even eliminate your exposure to certain risk factors. Doing so should be an essential component in your overall plan to get healthier and live a higher quality of life.

Being overweight can increase your risk of developing cancer. Research shows that individuals carrying excess body weight are more likely to contract potential fatal illnesses such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and several forms of cancer. According to National Cancer Institute, a stronger link may exist between obesity and certain types of cancer — esophageal cancer, colon and rectal cancer, endometrial cancer, pancreatic cancer, kidney cancer, thyroid cancer, gallbladder cancer and breast cancer.

But there is some good news. Perhaps as many as half of all cancer cases are preventable. You can reduce your risk of cancer by making healthy lifestyle choices to control your weight and increase your level of physical activity.

Here are a few recommendations from the American Cancer Society designed to help you get fit and stay cancer-free.

Change your lifestyle, reduce the risk of obesity

Maintain a healthy weight. Fat cells cause inflammation in the body. This inflammation can contribute to the growth of cancer cells. According to the American Cancer Institute for Cancer Research, achieving a better body fat percentage and keeping your weight within a healthy range are essential to resisting cancer.

Stay active. Moderate exercise may also lower levels of inflammation in your body. Exercise is also vital to maintaining an ideal body weight. Adults should budget for at least 30 minutes of intense physical activity each week. Children and adolescents need at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per day, and for at least five days a week.

Eat a plant-based diet. An unbalanced diet high in red meat can leave you vulnerable to a number of health risks, including cancer. Instead, adjust your diet to include more whole grains, fruits, vegetables and lean sources of protein like chicken and fish. When you treat yourself to red meat, prepare it by baking, boiling, or poaching, instead of frying or charbroiling. Avoid processed foods as much as possible.

Quit Smoking!

Don’t smoke and limit alcohol intake. Tobacco isn’t just linked to lung cancer. Using tobacco products is associated with other forms of cancer. Smoking is a factor in a full 30 percent of cancer deaths. After on years of research, the U.S Department of Health and Human Services now classifies alcohol as a known carcinogen. To reduce their risk of developing cancer, men should not drink more than two alcoholic beverages per day and women no more than one per day. Research shows that giving up alcohol —  even for a month — can help you achieve your weight loss goals.

Stress less. While stress may not be a cause of cancer, when we have high levels of stress, we are more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors. Eating junk food and avoiding physical activity become routine. In turn, these poor choices may contribute to your risk of developing cancer.

If you are concerned about cancer and want help losing weight, you may be a candidate for weight loss surgery. Contact McCarty Weight Loss Center to learn about your weight loss options, you might be a candidate for bariatric surgery.