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.
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.
Eat healthy, be physically active. We talk about these recommendations a lot for cancer prevention. Now a major new review of the evidence concludes that if you are one of the 86 million Americans at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, you can reduce your risk of this disease by participating in a program that combines both diet and physical activity. That means you’ll also have lower risk for many cancers.
Reports in the past few years have found that having type 2 diabetes increases the risk of several cancers, such as liver, pancreas, endometrium, colon/rectum, breast, and bladder. We talk about why that might be here with our expert.
Today’s recommendations were published in the Annals of Internal Medicine and they come from the Community Preventive Services Task Force, an independent group of experts. The task force found 53 studies that had programs encouraging people at risk of type 2 diabetes to improve their diet and increase their physical activity. All the programs used trained providers and lasted at least three months, with an average of about a year.
In three years, you won’t be seeing foods with added trans-fat on your grocery shelves, thanks to action from the federal government announced today. The step was taken primarily for heart health but it’s a great opportunity to help you shift to a more cancer-protective diet.
Trans fats are liquid fats that are partially hydrogenated, which makes them last longer on the shelf. A few years ago, you could spot them as an ingredient in many snack and packaged foods, such as margarine, cookies, pizza and chips. (There are also natural trans fats in meats and dairy but only in small amounts and these are not linked to heart health risks.)
Back in 2002, a report found a direct link between trans fat increasing risk of clogged arteries. Manufacturers had already begun phasing out trans fats, mostly replacing them with palm oil. Now, the FDA is mandating all food manufacturers cut partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), the primary dietary source of artificial trans fat over the next three years.