Cancer Awareness Month: Fact or Myth #3
By Corinne Glazer, RDN
Clinical Outpatient Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
Being overweight or obese increases your risk for developing cancer. FACT.
This statement holds true. According to the National Cancer Institute,
more than 1.7 million new cancer cases are expected to be diagnosed in
2019. The World Cancer Research Fund estimates that about 20% of all cancers
diagnosed in the United States are related to percent body fat, physical
inactivity, excess alcohol consumption, and/or poor nutrition. Currently,
31 states in the United States have an obesity rate of over 30%, 9 of
which are over 35%. To measure obesity, BMI (body mass index) is a commonly
used metric. This value is calculated based on a person’s height
versus their weight. A BMI range of 25.0-29.9 kg/m2 denotes overweight stats and a BMI >30 kg/m2 indicates obesity. BMI alone is not an indicator of overall health, but
it can be a helpful measurement in assessing weight status.
What is the mechanism behind the link between obesity and cancer?
Those who tend to be overweight or obese have a larger amount of fat tissue
across their stomach called adipose. An excess amount of adipose tissue
in the abdominal area is linked to increased estrogen production. This
is associated with increased risk of breast, endometrial, and ovarian
cancers. Being overweight or obese is linked to elevated blood levels
of insulin and insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1), both of which can increase
the development of colon, kidney, prostate, and endometrial cancers. In
addition, overweight and obese individuals often have chronic, low-level
inflammation. Inflammation is the body's response to an injury or
illness by signaling the immune system to heal and repair, as well as
fight foreign invaders. Although inflammation is vital to handle acute
stress, it can become a long-term health concern lasting anywhere from
several months to even years. Chronic inflammation can cause DNA damage
and/or activate genes that induce cancer cell growth.
“A few recommendations I make to my patients are to consume foods
in their most whole form, close to the source/locally grown, not smoking,
engaging in daily physical activity, getting at least 7 hours of sleep,
having healthy relationships, and maintaining a healthy weight throughout
their lives”. –Dr. Alexander M.D., M.A.
Here are some helpful tips for healthy weight management!
Make sure you are eating enough vegetables, fruit, lean protein, and whole
grains. According to MD Anderson Cancer Center it is recommended to fill
at least 2/3rd of your plate with non-starchy vegetables, fruit, whole grains or legumes, and 1/3rd or less with animal protein. The American Cancer Society also recommends
limiting processed and red meat consumption.
- Watch portion sizes! The United States is known for the tremendously large
portion sizes. Utilizing measuring utensils at home and splitting meals
at restaurants is a good start! Talk to your Registered Dietitian about
proper portion sizes for you!
- Engage in physical activity by incorporating aerobic exercise, strength
training, flexibility, and balance into your daily schedules. For most
adults, at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise spread throughout
the week is recommended. Seeking a personal trainer, joining recreational
sports, or attending group fitness classes have shown positive motivational
effects to losing weight.
- See a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for a professional consultation
and guidance to eat right and lose weight at a healthy rate. Losing weight
can be difficult both mentally and physical- you do not need to go through it alone!
Let’s challenge ourselves to maintain a healthy weight by making
better food choices, increasing our physical activity, managing stress,
limiting alcohol consumption, and looking for other ways to make our bodies
and communities a healthier place to live.
Interested in meeting with a dietitian to obtain a personalized nutrition
plan for disease prevention, weight management, or other health goals?
Call Torrance Memorial Specialty Center regarding our NEW (Nutrition Education and Wellness) program or CORE4 adult weight management classes, (310) 891-6707.