Focus on the Food – Not Calories – to Lower Cancer, Chronic Disease Risk

Heart disease, cancer and diabetes together cause about 1.3 million deaths each year in the US. A key lifestyle strategy for preventing and/or managing these diseases is getting to and staying a healthy weight. But losing weight – and keeping it off – is hard, and though many people are able to improve their weight, many more struggle to be successful.

Last month an editorial in Open Heart made a strong case that it’s time to stop counting calories and instead, focus on WHAT you eat.

A healthy diet, with plenty of vegetables and healthy fats, has both quick results for better health and long-term benefits for weight, argue the authors. They cite studies looking at how shifting to a healthy diet can lead to immediate positive effect on cardiovascular disease and diabetes. One of their examples is from the PREDIMED study where participants who ate a Mediterranean, plant-based diet with nuts and olive oil, but not calorie restriction, showed lower rates of type 2 diabetes and improved metabolic health.

We also know – from AICR’s evidence-based recommendations – that eating a diet built on plant foods like vegetables, legumes, whole grains and nuts, can reduce risk for many cancers, including colorectal and endometrial.

NAPC Infographic_Sept18UpdateBut survey after survey finds that the vast majority of adults and kids in our country are not eating enough fruits and vegetables. Continue reading

Half of US Adults Have Diabetes or PreDiabetes, What that Means for Cancer Risk

About one of every two American adults has or is at risk of having diabetes, with approximately a third of those with diabetes unaware they have it, finds a new study that offers important insights into cancer risk. People with type 2 diabetes are at increased risk for many of the most common cancers, including liver, colon and postmenopausal breast.
The study was published in The Journal of the American Medical Association.

Study authors used various national health survey data conducted periodically from 1988 to 2012. Participants had answered health questions and gone in for an exam, where they gave blood samples and had their weight and height measured. Anyone who reported a previous diagnosis of diabetes went into the diabetes category. Those with various measures of blood sugar levels over a set amount were categorized as having either undiagnosed or pre-diabetes.

Using one set of measures with the most current available data (2011-12), 14 percent of adults have diabetes. Yet about a third of those with signs of the disease have not been diagnosed. Another set of blood sugar measures puts the figure at 12 percent of adults having diabetes with a quarter of these people having the disease undiagnosed.

And another third of adults – slightly more – have prediabetes, a condition that shares many risk factors with common cancers.

Source data: JAMA. September 8, 2015, Vol 314, No. 10

Source data: JAMA. September 8, 2015, Vol 314, No. 10

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Many Unaware Diabetes Ups Cancer Risk, How Lifestyle Can Help

Today is World Diabetes Day and it comes at a time when the US rate of diabetes and those at risk for the disease are higher then ever before. Most are cases of type 2 diabetes, which brings numerous challenges in itself. Many are not aware that this disease also brings an increased risk of several cancers. For those at risk, you can lower it. CancerDiabetesVennx300

A paper back in 2010 found that people with type 2 diabetes are are at twice the increased risk of developing liver, pancreas and endometrium cancers, when compared to those without diabetes. Increased risk is smaller but still evident for cancers of the colon/rectum, post-menopausal breast and bladder.

A June report released by the government show how many men and women face these risks:
– about 1 in 10 US adults have diabetes
– about 1 in 3 are at risk for developing it
– over 1 in 4 adults with diabetes are undiagnosed

The connection between cancers and type 2 diabetes appears to be – in part – due to risk factors shared by both diseases, such as obesity, poor diet and being inactive. The positive is that people can do something about these.

Eating healthy, being active, and getting to then staying a healthy weight can help people with pre-diabetes reduce the risk of many cancers and type 2 diabetes. For those with diabetes, a healthy lifestyle can reduce the risk of cancers and improve management of the disease.

If you are at risk of developing or have diabetes, here, our Nutrition Advisor and expert in this area talks about the cancer-diabetes connections and steps you can take.