In a world where processed foods, sugar-laden desserts, and the high-fat fast food is easily and readily available, it’s no wonder that obesity has reached epidemic proportions in the U.S., as in some other countries. Obesity is a struggle for many people, and now there is, even more, reason for alarm as the scientific community has discovered a link between obesity and certain types of cancers. According to the World Cancer Research Fund, about 20% of cancers diagnosed in the United States are in some way related to obesity, poor nutrition or physical inactivity, meaning that they are largely preventable.
Being overweight has been clearly linked to an increased risk for the following types of cancers:
- Kidney cancer.
- Breast cancer.
- Colon and rectal cancer.
- Pancreatic cancer.
- Esophageal cancer.
- Endometrial cancer.
Studies are still being conducted to see if there is a direct link between obesity and an increased risk for other cancers such as liver, cervical, prostate, and other types of cancer. Science has also shown that having an excess amount of belly fat increases the risk of getting colon or rectal cancer, in addition to other types of cancer. Although the connection between excess body weight and increased cancer risks are quite complex and not entirely understood yet, it is believed that excess weight on a person’s body can affect cancer risk by:
- Hindering the immune system function and increasing inflammation.
- Increasing certain levels of hormones.
- Affecting factors that affect cell growth.
- Affecting how the body uses certain hormones.
So what can you do to decrease your cancer risk? Although the research on weight loss and its effect on cancer risks is still in its infancy, overall health risks associated with obesity are certainly well-documented, so it’s beneficial from multiple standpoints to try to eliminate obesity. Here are some things that might help aid in weight loss:
- Exercise at least 30 minutes a day at a moderate pace.
- Increase consumption of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.
- Cut down on foods that are high in sugar and fat.
- Consume healthy oils like olive oil instead of animal-based oils.
- Work with a trained diet or nutritionist who can help create a diet and exercise plan that might work best for your lifestyle and body type.
To learn more about how Houston Concierge Medicine & Wellness Center can develop personalized diagnostic and treatment plans using integrative medical care, call 713-333-6464 or schedule an appointment online.