Trans fats banned; what that could mean for your cancer risk

In three years, you won’t be seeing foods with added trans-fat on your grocery shelves, thanks to action from the federal government announced today. The step was taken primarily for heart health but it’s a great opportunity to help you shift to a more cancer-protective diet.

Trans fats are liquid fats that are partially hydrogenated, which makes them last longer on the shelf. A few years ago, you could spot them as an ingredient in many snack and packaged foods, such as margarine, cookies, pizza and chips. (There are also natural trans fats in meats and dairy but only in small amounts and these are not linked to heart health risks.)

Back in 2002, a report found a direct link between trans fat increasing risk of clogged arteries. Manufacturers had already begun phasing out trans fats, mostly replacing them with palm oil. Now, the FDA is mandating all food manufacturers cut partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), the primary dietary source of artificial trans fat over the next three years.

That’s good news for heart health.

Plant and Animal Fats

Fats that fit well on The New American Plate, 2/3 – 1/3 way of eating.

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Keep that Fitbit On: Exercise Helps Prevent Cancer

If you’ve seen the recent headlines warning that physical activity won’t help you lose weight, you may be wondering if your evening walk or daily workout is worth the time.

The answer is a resounding YES – do take that evening walk, keep your pedometer on and get your exercise in whether you want to lose weight or not.

In the last few weeks, there’s been one article after another with experts arguing about what’s most important for weight loss – diet or exercise. But getting lost in all this discussion is the overwhelming evidence that physical activity provides many health benefits independent of weight loss, including lowering risk for at least three cancers – endometrial, colorectal and postmenopausal breast.being-physically-active-decreases-risk-of-these-cancers

There’s no argument that getting to and staying a healthy weight is also important for cancer. But this debate misses the mark when it comes to shaping your health. It is true that you “can’t outrun a bad diet,” as the author of a Washington Post article “Take off that Fitbit” says. It’s also true that for better health you need to do more than just cut calories.

For example, in that Post article, the author cites a study showing that diet only led to more weight loss than a diet and exercise group. What he didn’t point out is that while the diet only group lost slightly more weight, they also lost more muscle and bone mass than the diet and exercise group. This is especially critical because the study’s participants were 65 and older. Exercise helps you keep your muscle and strong bones at any age.

Apps, tracking devices and pedometers have also been singled out as not being the answer to weight loss. But losing weight takes a lot of work – it is hard to eat less – and you need all the support you can get to succeed. So while these devices aren’t the answer, studies do show that tracking your food and exercise is one key component to successful weight loss. You can also use a notebook, calendar or checklist, what matters is keeping track of your progress.

For more tips on eating smarter, learn about AICR’s New American Plate way of eating to lower cancer risk and lose weight healthfully.


Study: To Eat Less, Choose the Right Dining Companion

If you go out to lunch with a skimpy eater, you’ll probably eat a small amount too – even if you are used to eating more, says a new study.

In this study, the authors analyzed 38 studies that looked at how much – or how little – diners’ eating habits affected their dining companions’ portions.

Studies like this can help increase our understanding of the many factors that influence how much people eat and can help you develop effective strategies to achieve a healthy weight. That’s important for cancer prevention because overweight and obesity increases risk for 10 cancers, including colorectal, postmenopausal breast and liver. Continue reading