Move over smoking, there’s a bigger health-hazard in our country: Obesity. A new study has found that obesity has now become an equal, if not greater, contributor to disease and shortening of a healthy life in comparison to smoking.
In the study, researchers calculated the Quality-Adjusted Life Years (QALYs) lost after surveying participants about a set of questions on health-related quality of life, such as asking about recent poor health days.
The results don’t seem that surprising, given the fact that obesity rates have steadily and significantly increased over the years, as smoking rates have decreased. From 1993 to 2008, when the study data was collected, the proportion of smokers among US adults reportedly declined 18.5 percent while obesity increased 85 percent. Smoking had a bigger impact on deaths while obesity had a bigger impact on illness.
The study is scheduled for publication in the February issue of American Journal of Preventive Medicine: You can read the news story about it here.
When it comes to cancer, obesity plays a key role. AICR estimates that approximately 100,000 cancers occurring in the US every year are caused by excess body fat. Add physical activity and a healthy diet to weight management, and we could prevent about one-third of the most common cancers. AICR does not study smoking, but tobacco use is considered to be responsible for a similar percentage of cancer cases – about one-third.
This study was done in the UK, so we don’t know if similar results would be found in the U.S.
U.S. coffee drinkers need to keep in mind that additions such as whipped cream, syrups and other sweeteners pack in the calories. If regularly consumed, those extra calories can lead to overweight and obesity, which is a cause of cancer. And, if you have sleep difficulties, heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), you should limit coffee.
Since coffee may offer health benefits due to antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds it contains, if you don’t have reason to avoid it, go ahead and enjoy that second cup. Just keep it simple – plain – or with a little skim or lowfat milk.
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American Institute for Cancer Research
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