What do sports, heart health, cancer prevention, eating disorders and wellness have to do with each other?
I just returned from the 30th Annual Symposium of SCAN – the Sports, Cardiovascular, and Wellness Nutrition dietetic practice group – a specialty group of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, which is the professional home of registered dietitians. SCAN has been on the cutting edge of nutrition since its inception, seeing the interconnections of these areas.
At this year’s SCAN Symposium, I was delighted to speak to a packed room about the connection of heart disease, diabetes and cancer. The three top diseases share numerous risk factors. And as research is increasingly showing, following recommendations that prevent cancer also reduce risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
During SCAN’s 30 years, the need to keep the big picture in mind has become even clearer among a variety of topics.
• At one time, “wellness programs” focused primarily on heart health. Today, research identifies a broader vision of wellness, including how we can substantially reduce risk of cancer through eating and activity choices and a healthy weight. Wellness now refers to reducing people’s risk of disease and promoting their ability to live with vitality. Continue reading
I recently came back from a symposium of registered dietitians who specialize in cancer and nutrition, where there was a lot of exciting research presented on cancer survivorship.
Some presentations were highly technical – covering interactions of particular chemotherapy drugs with nutrition and updated tips for use of feeding tubes and pancreatic enzymes, for example. Take-home nuggets of broader interest include:
- Effects of weight loss in breast cancer survivors: Overweight and obese breast cancer survivors who lost weight through moderate changes in eating choices combined with regular physical activity lowered levels of insulin and estrogens, both of which can promote cancer development. Cheryl Rock, PhD, RD, showed evidence suggesting even five percent weight loss (about eight pounds for a 160-pound woman) may be enough to improve outcome. (Here’s a webinar that Dr. Rock and I presented on Diet and Physical Activity in Cancer Prevention and Survivorship.)
Should obese people who are metabolically healthy be advised to lose weight?
Risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer all increase with excess body fat. Yet research has identified two unique groups: those who are obese but metabolically healthy, and those who are a healthy weight but metabolic unhealthy. This was the topic of a session I especially looked forward to attending at last month’s American Diabetes Association Scientific Sessions.
Metabolic health matters when it comes to cancer. Inflammation and the elevated insulin levels that come with insulin resistance are believed to promote cancer development.
Metabolically healthy obesity (MHO) refers to people who have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more (for someone who is 5’6” tall, weight of at least 186 pounds) yet don’t have the metabolic abnormalities that typically accompany obesity. There’s not yet a standard definition for MHO, but usually a person with MHO has no more than one of the following: diabetes, high blood pressure, elevated blood triglycerides or low HDL cholesterol. Studies generally report from 3 to 20 percent of obese people meet criteria to be classified as metabolically healthy. Continue reading