Keeping Valentines Day Sweet with Less Added Sugar

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So maybe you expended a lot of energy chasing after each other in the early days, but now you’re cozy and comfortable with each other. Studies show that men (and sometimes women) tend to gain weight after marriage, a lifestyle change that tends to lead to a less active routine, and that may also mean being at greater risk for cancer.

According to AICR’s expert report, excess body fat is a cause of seven different cancers, including pancreas, colorectum, breast (post menopausal), endometrium, kidney and esophagus. Body mass index (BMI) is one way to determine if you are overweight. You can figure out your BMI with AICR’s BMI Calculator.

If you find it’s getting difficult to wrap your arms around each other, consider reducing intake of “processed” sweets. Foods with high sugar content, like soda, cakes, and candies, tend to be high in calories but generally do not keep you feeling full for very long. Eating foods with excessive sugar content can cause a cycle of hunger and weight gain from overconsumption of energy.

Fortunately there are some easy ways to adjust calorie intake to keep lovebirds fit and healthy :

  • Portion sizing – keep the sweet, but keep it small. If you must have a dessert, share a portion and savor each bite.
  • Fruit – Full of fiber and cancer-fighting Phytochemicals, fruit is naturally sweet on its own. Try fresh cut mango, diced strawberries, or a bowl of frozen berries for a sweet treat.
  • Sugar substitutes – Agave, a thin sweet liquid derived from the Blue Agave plant, and honey, are two natural sweeteners that are actually sweeter than table sugar. This means a smaller amount can be used to achieve desired sweetness. Agave or honey can be used in baking, as a beverage sweetener, or as a topping.
  • Sometimes just giving yourself 20 to 30 minutes to digest a meal will reduce the craving for a sugar-laden dessert. Take time after dinner to chat about the time you first met each other, then decide whether or not you need a sweet to feel satisfied.

For more information of on the connection between weight and cancer-risk, check out AICR’s webpage Weight: How Much We Weigh


New Guidelines Echo AICR’s Dietary Approach

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The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans were released this morning and here at AICR, we’re excited about their emphasis on preventing obesity and eating more plant foods.

The new guidelines say that America’s overweight and obesity epidemic played a major role in developing the recommendations. The obesity epidemic carries a steep cost, the guidelines point out,  increasing the risk of many chronic diseases, such as heart disease and cancer. Most are preventable. (For cancer, AICR estimates that over 1/3 of the most common cancers could be prevented if Americans ate healthy, exercised more, and stayed lean.)

A few of the guidelines’ take-home messages include:
• Enjoy your food, but eat less.
• Avoid oversized portions.
• Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
• Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk.

Overall, the guidelines support AICR’s recommendations for cancer prevention, which also emphasize the importance of staying a healthy weight and eating more plant foods.

So take a look at your plate. If you want to get started putting the guidelines into action tonight, try using AICR’s New American Plate approach.

There’s a lot in the guidelines; you can read all of it here. Stay tuned for more and let us know what you think about them.

The Diabetes-Cancer Connection: Breast Cancer

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In September 2010, AICR published “The Diabetes-Cancer Connection” paper discussing the research on the link between these two diseases and how health professionals can counsel patients on lifestyle changes to lower risk of both.

Now several studies in the Journal of Clinical Oncology show how both type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance negatively impact prognosis in breast cancer patients. Those with type 2 diabetes or insulin resistance do not fare as well as breast cancer patients who did not have those conditions.

An accompanying editorial discusses two simple procedures that health care providers should do for patients with breast cancer to improve outcomes.

1.            Measure waist circumference. This simple measure may point to metabolic syndrome associated with type 2 diabetes and related risk factors.

2.            Measure HOMA index (indicator of insulin resistance).

The authors of the editorial explain that with these measures, health care providers would be able to individualize a patient’s treatment to include diet and physical activity programs that are known to improve survival for many.

The editors give a call to action to integrate care of these two diseases:

“The time has come to overcome the conventional tunnel vision that results in two diseases being treated by separate clinicians, and to move towards a comprehensive approach that ideally integrates oncologists, internists, nutritionists, and other health care professionals in an attempt to improve breast cancer prognosis in a significant proportion of patients.” Read more… “The Diabetes-Cancer Connection: Breast Cancer”