Exercise for weight loss may lower inflammation, breast cancer risk

For postmenopausal women who are overweight, it makes sense that losing weight could reduce their risk of breast cancer because being overweight or obese increases the risk. But when overweight women are working to shed pounds, is it primarily exercise or cutting calories that makes more of a difference in lowering the risk?canstockphoto16118782

Both, suggests a new study, with weight loss fueled primarily by exercise possibly leading to even more benefits – at least in the short-term for certain markers of breast cancer.

The study is one of the few randomized controlled trials that focuses on teasing apart the effect of diet versus exercise on breast cancer risk. It was published this week in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

Previous research has shown that too much fat tissue can place the body in a constant state of inflammation. That leads to high levels of hormones and other proteins that can spur cancer cell growth. How exercise alone can affect inflammation and hormones is one of the big questions under study. Continue reading

Eating a Plant-Based Diet Doesn’t Have to Break the Bank

There are so many reasons people put off eating a more healthful plant-based diet: time, motivation, and cooking skills, to name a few. But one of the main reasons people are not eating a cancer and disease protective diet, filled with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, boils down to one simple factor: cost. In fact, a new AICR survey found that 35% of Americans who said their diets were not very healthy cited cost as being the most important factor getting in the way.SharonP_blog

It’s easy to see why people might think healthy, plant-filled eating is synonymous with high cost. Tiny packages of “superfoods”, like blueberries, walnuts, and spices seem to carry a hefty price tag for such small containers, especially compared to fast food drive-throughs boasting dollar menus. Indeed, it’s true that many less healthful foods carry discount prices, such as liters of soda, giant bags of chips, and high fat ground beef, giving the impression that healthy foods will break your food budget. But you have to dig a little bit deeper.

Many plant-based foods are amazingly easy on the pocket book. Take dried beans, a bag of brown rice, and a jar of peanut butter, for example, which all contribute a wealth of important nutrients for a tiny price. In contrast, generally the animal proteins—steak, chicken, pork—are the most costly contributions to the meal. In fact, a recent study found that people who adopt a more plant-based diet, such as a vegetarian diet, save an average of $750 per year on groceries, compared to those who eat meat-heavy diets.

The bottom line: You can have your healthy, plant-fueled diet without breaking the bank, and here are my top 6 tips for doing just that: Continue reading

Now, on World Cancer Day, We Already Have the Knowledge, Tools to Prevent So Many Cancers

In his State of the Union address, President Obama announced a “moonshot” program to fight cancer. In charge of that program, Vice President Biden has met with oncologists, scientists, and other leaders in the cancer field, and stated that, “We’re trying to get to a quantum leap on the path to a cure”

Anne McTiernan MD, PhD.

Anne McTiernan MD, PhD.

Much of the focus has been on Big Data, and on sharing science across institutions, in the effort to quickly move results from the lab to the public. In a nation where approximately four in ten people can expect to be diagnosed with invasive cancer in their lifetimes, we need big efforts to fight this disease.

Today, World Cancer Day, is a time to raise awareness of prevention: Cancer prevention needs to be a part of the renewed push against cancer.

Focusing only on the cure is like trying to douse a forest fire on one front while someone is lighting matches on another. The good news is that we already have the knowledge and tools here on earth to prevent a large proportion of cancers from developing, without reaching for the moon.

WCD adAvoidance of known carcinogens (including tobacco, excess radiation, sun and tanning), and use of vaccines for human papilloma and hepatitis B viruses, can prevent a wide range of cancers such as lung, skin, liver, cervix, mouth and throat. Screening and removal of premalignant lesions can prevent several cancers including those of the skin, colon, and cervix. Medications have been shown in clinical trials to prevent breast or prostate cancers in persons at high risk for those cancers. Continue reading