Both here in the US and around the world, obesity rates continue to climb. Today, for the first time, more people are classified as obese than underweight, finds a major new study published in The Lancet.
The findings have severe implications for cancer rates. Aside from not smoking, staying a healthy weight is the single largest risk factor related to cancer risk. AICR research links excess body fat to ten cancers, including colorectal, postmenopausal breast and esophageal.
Here in the US, if everyone were a healthy weight, AICR estimates that approximately 128,000 cases of cancer could be prevented each year.
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?
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.
The new Dietary Guidelines for Americans are out and they take a step in the right direction to help you make choices to lower your risk for cancer. Two key pieces of advice–eat a healthy diet that includes plenty of plant foods and keep sugary foods and drinks to a minimum. And that could mean fewer cases of cancer associated with poor diet and obesity.
You can put these into practice with our New American Plate model – filling at least 2/3 of your plate with vegetables, legumes, whole grains and fruit, and 1/3 or less with fish, poultry, meat and dairy.
The guidelines also recommend keeping your added sugar to 10 percent or less of your total calories. As we wrote earlier about the nutrition label and sugar, if you follow a 2000 calorie diet, you could have about one cup of fruit yogurt and one small dark chocolate bar. That’s because foods with high amounts of added sugar contribute to overweight and obesity, a cause of 10 cancers, including colorectal, postmenopausal breast and kidney.
Unfortunately, the Dietary Guidelines does not reflect the evidence-based recommendation from the independent expert committee to advise Americans to limit red and processed meat. It is disappointing that industry lobbying efforts succeeded in preventing the clear and simple message that these increase risk for colorectal cancer. AICR research has shown that red and processed meats are convincingly linked to colorectal cancer, and the World Health Organization has also recently established that link. Here’s our recommendation: