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Obesity Risk
Lose weight to cut cancer risk

Dietitian, Juliette Kellow reports on a new survey by the World Cancer Research Fund which reveals that many people are not aware of the link between cancer and excessive body fat.

Lose weight to cut cancer risk

By Dietitian, Juliette Kellow BSc RD

Most of us know that being overweight…

Increases our risk of a range of diseases including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and joint and back problems. But is seems many of us are still unaware that weighing too much also puts us at risk of cancer.

A new survey of more than 2,000 Brits carried out by the World Cancer Research Fund has revealed that a massive 48 percent of adults in the UK aren’t aware of a link between cancer and excessive body fat.

The survey also found that 38 percent of adults don’t know that drinking too much alcohol and being physically inactive increase the risk of cancer. And a massive 43 percent didn’t know that having a poor diet means we’re more likely to develop cancer.

Lucie Galice, General Manager of the World Cancer Research Fund says, “It’s a real concern that so many people are unaware that they can make a difference to their risk of cancer just by eating healthily, being physically active and maintaining a healthy weight. The evidence on this is really clear and, in fact, scientists estimate that about a third of cancers could be prevented just by doing these things.”

WLR says…

In October 2007, the World Cancer Research Fund produced a report outlining 10 key recommendations to reduce the risk of cancer.

The first recommendation was to maintain a healthy Body Weight. Yet despite the fact this report received a large amount of media coverage, the message clearly hasn’t got through.

There is now convincing evidence that too much body fat increases the risk of cancers of the oesophagus (gullet), pancreas, bowel, breast (in postmenopausal women), endometrium and kidney. Having too much fat around our waistline is also a major risk factor for bowel cancer.

According to the World Cancer Research Fund, we should actually aim for a BMI of 21 to 23 – in other words, towards the lower end of the normal weight range. Many of the other recommendations made in the report to reduce the risk of cancer are also aimed at helping to maintain a healthy weight.

Recommendations to follow to reduce your risk of cancer:

  • Be physically active, for example, by brisk walking, for at least 30 minutes a day. As fitness improves, aim for 60 minutes of moderate activity a day or 30 minutes of vigorous activity daily. Plus, limit sedentary habits such as watching TV.
  • Limit the amount of high-calorie foods you eat, avoid sugary drinks and eat ‘fast food’ sparingly, if at all.
  • Eat mostly plant foods – aim for five fruit and veg daily, eat wholegrains and/or pulses with every meal and limit processed starchy foods.
  • Limit intakes of cooked red meat to less than 500g a week and eat very little processed meat.
  • Women should have no more that one alcoholic drink a day, and men no more than two alcoholic drinks daily.
  • Avoid salty foods and have less than 6g salt a day.
  • Get all the nutrients you need through eating a balanced diet. Dietary supplements aren’t recommended to reduce the risk of cancer.

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More Information

www.wcrf-uk.org – Since 1990, World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) has been dedicated to providing research and education programmes on the role of diet and physical activity in the prevention of cancer.

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Weight Loss Resources provides tools and information to help you lose weight by healthy eating and getting your calorie balance right. You can access the calorie database and keep an online food diary free, for 24 hours.

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