You’ve surely seen plenty of headlines proclaiming the Mediterranean Diet among the healthiest ways to eat. What does the research behind these headlines mean about potential to reduce your risk of cancer? We need to step in and look more closely at these studies, and also step back to view their findings as part of the big picture on what we know about eating habits and cancer risk.
Does a Mediterranean Diet reduce cancer risk?
A growing number of studies do link a Mediterranean pattern of eating with lower cancer risk. But it’s important to emphasize that this is compared to people with low scores for “Mediterranean” eating –which usually means they have eating habits that include more meat, refined grains and sweets. These studies do not establish Mediterranean diets as more protective than other healthy ways of eating.
A new government report finds that overweight- and obesity-related cancers account for approximately 40 percent of all cancers in the US and the incidence of almost all obesity-related cancers is rising. The report, by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suggest a troubling trend that mirrors the increasing US obesity rates in recent decades.
AICR research shows that overweight and obesity is a cause of many common cancers.
“We know that obesity has increased, now we are seeing an increase in cancers that are associated with obesity – and a decline in those not associated with obesity,” said Nigel Brockton, PhD, AICR’s Director of Research.
Aside from not smoking, staying a healthy weight throughout life is the single most important lifestyle step to protect against cancer risk. AICR estimates that if all adults in the US were a healthy weight, it could prevent approximately 132,800 new cases of cancer each year.
If you’ve worked to lose weight, you may have found it just as challenging to keep it off months and years later. And there aren’t a lot of clear answers on how to avoid pounds creeping back on. But we do know that staying a healthy weight is one of the most important lifestyle factors you can do to reduce risk of many cancers, including postmenopausal breast, colorectal and esophageal.
Now, a recent study, published in Obesity, finds that slow and steady weight loss may be best. Taking that approach, even in the first few weeks of a program, may predict your ability to maintain that weight loss even up to 2 years later. Research has been mixed on whether consistency in weight loss and diet affects ability to keep weight off longer term. In this study, researchers compared those with steady weight loss to those with weight fluctuations in the first 6-12 weeks of the study to see how that affected their long term ability to maintain weight loss.
The scientists assigned 183 people to one of three groups with different diets. They met weekly for 6 months, then less often the rest of the year. Those who lost a consistent amount of weight week to week had low variability, and those who lost, for example, 5 pounds one week and then gained 3 and lost several again, had high weight variability. Read more… “Lose weight slow and steady – keep it off years later”
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American Institute for Cancer Research
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