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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Eat healthy, Be active: New Recommendations to prevent Diabetes, may also prevent cancer

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.CancerDiabetesVennx300

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 total, there were 66 programs. Continue reading