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Losing Weight Can Help Prevent Colon Cancer

Losing Weight Can Help Prevent Colon Cancer

Losing Weight Can Help Prevent Colon CancerObesity is certainly a problem in the United States. According to the Center for Disease Control, about 35.7 percent of American adults are obese (Source:  CDC.gov). That is over one-third of all adults in our country! What is unsettling is that these numbers are increasing. Being overweight brings serious health risks such as type II diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, coronary artery disease, stroke, gallstones, sleep apnea and cancer.

In 2007, the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) study, estimated that 34,000 cases of new cancer in men (4 percent) and 50,500 cases of cancer in women (7 percent) resulted from obesity. Why is obesity linked to cancer? Here are just a few reasons:

  • Fat tissue produces excess estrogen. High levels of estrogen are associated with increased risk of cancer.
  • Obese individuals can have increased insulin levels and insulin-like growth factor that can promote tumor growth.
  • Fat cells produce hormones that can stimulate cell growth.
  • Obesity is associated with chronic, low-level inflammation which can increase cancer risk.

In men, a higher body mass index (BMI) is linked to an increased risk of colon cancer. Therefore, lowering the body mass index decreases the risk for colon cancer. Interestingly, where the fat is found in the body also contributes to risk. Abdominal fat, measured by waist circumference, is strongly linked to colon cancer. BMI and waist circumference also affect colon cancer risk in women, but it is not as significant as with men (Source: Cancer.gov).

Just as being overweight can put you at risk for colon cancer, losing weight can help decrease your risk and help prevent colon cancer. Although going to a doctor or dietician would be helpful and could possibly help you lose weight faster, weight-loss is mostly about self-control. Here are some steps that you can take to lose weight and decrease your risk of colon cancer:

  1. Exercise most days of the week—Getting at least 30 minutes of vigorous exercise most days of the week will help shed the pounds. As your BMI decreases, estrogen and insulin levels will decrease. This will inhibit cancer cell growth.
  2. Replace a diet that is high in fat, red meat, simple carbohydrates and sugar with a diet that includes wide array of fruits, vegetables and whole grains—Eating fruits, vegetables and whole grains provides more fiber which helps prevent colon cancer. Fiber makes you feel full, creates bulk in the intestines and helps rid the colon of toxins and harmful bacteria. Fruits and veggies are full of antioxidants, which help prevent free-radical damage.
  3. Limit alcohol or omit it completely—Alcohol is high in calories and causes excess abdominal weight. Abdominal weight increases colon cancer risk, especially in men. Trim the belly by giving up alcohol or having a drink only on occasion.
  4. When you have achieved a healthy weight, maintain it—With daily exercise and a balanced diet, you should be able to maintain your new “you.” Remember: slow and steady wins the race. Avoid fad diets and radical weight-loss plans. Those tend to backfire and many people gain all the weight back. Aim to lose 1 to 2 pounds per week to help keep off the weight (Source: Web MD).

posted on October 16, 2013 in news