Women, Weight Loss and Cancer Risk

One of the big findings from AICR’s new report is that excess body fat increases a woman’s risk of endometrial cancer. Research already shows that being overweight increases risk of other cancers, such as post-menopausal breast and colorectal.Woman's Feet on a Scale

Maintaining a healthy body weight plays a key role in good health for both men and women – but as women, there are unique obstacles we face that can make weight loss a bit harder. Here are a few weight challenges I’ve seen women face and ways to overcome them.

  • Calorie needs. Women generally have a slower metabolism (due to differences in body build) compared to men. For example, the calorie needs for a sedentary, 35 year-old women who is 150 pounds and 5’5” inches tall are about 1,800 per day, while those for a man of the same age, height and weight are about 2,000 calories per day.

Overcome it by making healthier choices at restaurants (swap the fries or mashed potatoes for steamed vegetables) and keep portions in check. Recognize everyone has different calorie needs – eat based on your own hunger and fullness, not based on what others are eating. Continue reading


Lighten Your Load: Eating a Healthful, Low Glycemic Load Diet

You may have heard about our report yesterday on endometrial cancer: physical activity and coffee help protect against the cancer, but excess body fat and a high-glycemic-load (GL) diet increase risk.dreamstime_xs_33021083_small

I talk about what glycemic load means here – basically, it’s a measure of how much a food increases your blood sugar. But how would you know if your diet is high or low GL?

There are a lot of glycemic load charts out there that compare foods. However, using glycemic load to select your foods doesn’t mean you will necessarily have a healthful or cancer preventive diet. (Meats and fats don’t contain carbohydrates, so they are not even listed on the GL charts.)

So what should your plate look like to make it fit the low-glycemic-load and cancer protective recommendations? It looks a lot like our New American Plate. Here are four easy steps to making your plate fit a low-glycemic-load diet – all just by looking at your plate.

1.  Put Plant Foods on Your Plate

Watery vegetables, whole fresh fruits, beans and legumes, whole grains and nuts are low to moderate GL and they’re packed with cancer-fighting vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals.

Try this: Make a burrito with whole-wheat tortillas, pinto beans, red peppers, tomatoes and lettuce. Serve with a mango salsa. Continue reading


Preventing Endometrial Cancer: Talking with Elisa Bandera

The new AICR/World Cancer Research Fund report on preventing endometrial cancer was published today – the report found obesity, coffee, and activity links to risk. The report analyzed the global research on diet, activity, and weight to the risk of endometrial cancer. Here, Elisa Bandera, MD, PhD, the panel lead of this CUP report and an epidemiologist at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, talks about the report’s findings and what it means.Bandera_Elisa_small

Q: This is the first systematic update of the research on lifestyle and endometrial cancer risk since 2007. Overall, what’s new here?

A: For the update, we now have more prospective data for dietary factors and interesting associations emerged with coffee consumption and glycemic load. Coffee consumption was associated with reduced risk while glycemic load increased risk. There is also growing evidence that longer sitting time increases endometrial cancer risk.

Q: But the research for sitting time – sedentary livingwas not strong enough to make a conclusion.

A: There were only three studies at this time but they all suggested increased risk. We could not be certain based on the limited data that the association was independent of BMI. However, sitting time has been emerging as an important risk factor for other cancers, independent of physical activity. In other words, it is not sufficient to go to the gym three times a week. We have to remember to get up out of our chairs and move and avoid extended period of sittings in front of the television or the computer.

Q: How much more research is there now on endometrial cancer prevention compared to the last report?

A: There are more studies, but particularly more prospective studies evaluating dietary factors, which were lacking in the first report.  Still, only few prospective studies have evaluated some of the dietary exposures and endometrial cancer risk compared to the number of studies that have evaluated them in relation to breast or colorectal cancers.

Q: Why is having prospective data so important?

A: The previous report’s conclusions were based on mainly findings from case-control studies, which are generally considered weaker than cohort or prospective studies. Continue reading