According to Cancer Research UK, obese women have approximately a 40 percent increased risk of developing weight-related cancer than women with a healthy weight. Overweight women are apparently more at risk of developing at least seven types of cancer including bowel, post-menopausal breast, gall bladder, womb, kidney, pancreatic and esophageal cancer. (1)
For every 1000 obese women, 274 are diagnosed with some kind of bodyweight-linked cancer in their lifetime in comparison to 194 out of every 1,000 women who have a healthy weight. (1) There have been a variety of explanations for this increased risk, but one possibility is that cancer is linked to fat cells’ production of hormones, especially estrogen, which is thought to fuel the development of cancer.
Dr. Julie Sharp, head of health information at Cancer Research UK, said:
“We know that our cancer risk depends on a combination of our genes, our environment and other aspects of our lives, many of which we can control, helping people understand how they can reduce their risk of developing cancer in the first place remains crucial in tackling the disease.” (1)
The Links between Obesity and Cancer
In 2010 it is estimated that 17,294 people in the UK developed cancer as a result of being overweight or obese. (2) In the US, one study, using NCI Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) data, estimated that being overweight or obese was associated with 40 percent of all cancers diagnosed in 2014, or about 631,000 cancer cases. (3) While the ratio of cases that can be attributed to obesity tends to vary widely for different cancer types, obesity is certainly a factor for some cancers, particularly endometrial cancer and esophageal adenocarcinoma where 40% of those diagnosed are obese.
Obesity is a big problem in many developed countries and woman are not the only ones that should worry about their weight to prevent serious illnesses such as cancer. In the US, results from a 2011-2014 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) demonstrated that nearly 70% of U.S. adults 20 years of age or older were overweight or obese. (4) This is an increase from the 1988-1994 study, where only 56 percent of adults 20 years of age and older were overweight or obese. (5)
The Relationship between Obesity and Cancer
Obesity has been linked to the following cancer types:
- Breast (after menopause)
- Colon and rectum
- Endometrium (lining of the uterus)
How Does Obesity Cause Cancer?
If you are overweight or obese, the body has more fat than it needs. This excess fat can cause cancer in a number of ways.
- Fat cells in the body are active and produce hormones and proteins that are released into the bloodstream and are carried around the body. They act as chemical messengers and can affect most areas of the body, therefore increasing the risk of several different types of cancer.
- Having an excess of fat can change the level of sex hormones in your body such as estrogen and testosterone and this may well increase your risk of cancer.
- High insulin levels are a common feature of many cancers. People who are overweight or obese have much higher levels of insulin in the body.
- Too much fat around the belly in apple-shaped people has been linked to bowel, kidney, esophageal, pancreatic, breast, and womb cancers.
- People who are overweight most likely have less healthy diets or do less exercise than those who have a healthy weight.
The Link between a Sedentary Lifestyle and Cancer
It’s important to bear in mind that even if you are not obese you are still at risk of cancer. It’s a fact that too much sitting around can lead to many cancers regardless of your weight, and a sedentary lifestyle is also a cause of heart disease and diabetes.
According to a pooled data study that looked at over 4 million participants with 68,936 cases of cancer, every two extra hours spent sitting is associated with a 10% increased chance of developing endometrial cancer in women, and the risk for bowel and lung cancer are raised by 8% and 6% respectively, regardless of how much exercise is done when not sitting. Even physically active people who sit down for too long are increasing their risk of cancer. (6)
The pooled data study analyzed questionnaires and interviews that probed lifestyle habits and total sitting time (watching TV, reading, playing video games, working at a desk, etc.). The comparison demonstrated a significant and increased risk for three specific cancers among the more sedentary – bowel, endometrial (womb lining) and lung. Anyone spending longer than two or three hours per day in their seats put themselves at risk. (6)
How Do I Know If I Am Obese?
People are classed as obese when they have an abnormally high and unhealthy proportion of body fat. Medical practitioners can measure obesity using the body mass index (BMI) which is calculated by dividing a person’s weight (in kilograms) by their height (in meters) squared. BMI provides a more accurate measure of obesity or being overweight than weight alone.
There have been guidelines established by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) who use the following categories for adults over the age of 20.
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You can work out your own BMI by using the calculator supplied by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute here http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/lose_wt/BMI/bmicalc.htm
How to Lose Weight Permanently
Losing weight permanently means making lots of small changes and sticking to them every day. This will be much more effective than spending hours in a gym. Coupled with leading a less sedentary lifestyle you will start to feel healthier in next to no time.
10 Tips for Safe Weight Loss
- The easiest and most effective diet program to follow is to simply eat fruit upon rising, as many as you like, until your noon meal. You may also drink water, teas and fruit juices all morning, but no other foods. Then eat a normal healthy noon meal and evening meal.
- Eat regular meals at the same time every day. Small meals more often will ensure you don’t snack.
- Avoid all refined fats and consume only cold pressed oils, especially cold pressed macadamia oil, as this has helped many to lose weight.
- Walk more. Buy a pedometer and try to walk 10,000 steps per day.
- Choose healthy snacks. We need five portions of fruit and vegetables each day.
- Read your food labels and scrutinize them for refined fat and sugar content.
- Reduce your portions, except for vegetables.
- Stand up. Break up your sitting time and make sure you stand up for ten minutes out of every hour.
- Choose water as your drink of choice.
- Enjoy your food. Slow down and savor it.
Burn Those Calories with Peak Exercise
A very beneficial type of physical exercise is Peak Fitness. Gone are the days of cardio and jogging or long distance running, gym workouts and aerobics classes. Instead, the focus is on the intensity of the exercise rather than how long it lasts. This type of high-intensity exercise is especially beneficial for us as we age. It requires less time and it benefits your heart and body.
‘Peak exercises’ raise the heart rate beyond the normal aerobic threshold and push it into a maximum intensity limit. This sounds extreme, but it is actually appropriate and safe for even the more senior of us. Interval training improves fitness by building new capillaries and a stronger heart and lungs, while the muscles benefit from the creation of more mitochondria, the tiny motors that power cells.
You can choose an exercise that you really enjoy such as swimming, walking, cycling or skiing etc. Do a 3 minute warm up at your regular speed followed by a 30-second burst of intense exercise. Followed by 90 seconds at regular speed/intensity. Repeat this 30 seconds/90 seconds routine at least 8 times for the best results.
The burst of intense exercise should leave you panting and almost out of breath when you finish. It should take around twenty minutes in total and it’s recommended to do this exercise 2 or 3 times a week. After each session, cool down for four minutes to avoid sore muscles.
By following this exercise and sticking to a healthy diet plan you should be able to cut down on your excess weight, reduce your risk of cancer and make a real difference to your health.
Benefit from Healthy Fats with the Budwig Diet
A basic problem in our modern lifestyle is our diet, specifically the type of fats that we consume. Fast food, as well as processed foods and prepared meals, often contain refined oils, hydrogenated vegetable oil or and/or vegetable oils that have been heated. Additionally, in many parts of the world, the amount of animal fat that people consume is excessive.
The Budwig Diet provides the body with healthy fats. The Budwig Muesli is prepared with flaxseeds (linseeds) and flaxseed oil, which are rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids. Flaxseeds are beneficial for balancing estrogen levels, increasing energy and oxygen levels, preventing tumors, improving digestion, promoting a healthy immune system, are a powerful anti-pathogen remedy, an anti-depressant and, last but not least, they lower cholesterol levels.
Apart from the extremely beneficial Budwig Muesli (a mix of cottage cheese or quark cheese with flaxseed oil, ground flaxseed, and honey), the Budwig diet includes sources of healthy fat, such as raw nuts and cold-pressed vegetable oils. It also involves replacing harmful, processed foods with healthy, natural foods. At Budwig Center, we provide a variety of delicious recipes to make eating healthy an enjoyable experience. And the good news is: it is very hard to remain obese if you follow the Budwig diet! But, apart from this obvious advantage, the Budwig diet has many more health benefits. Most people who start on the Budwig diet and stick to it for a few months find that they no longer want to go back to their previous lifestyle.
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References for cancer prevention, obese women more likely to get cancer
- Cancers attributable to overweight and obesity in the UK in 2010. British Journal of Cancer. https://www.nature.com/articles/bjc2011481/tables/4
- National Center for Health Statistics. Health, United States, 2015: With Special Feature on Racial Exit Disclaimer and Ethnic Health Disparities Exit Disclaimer. Hyattsville, MD. 2016.
- JNCI: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Volume 106, Issue 7, 1 July 2014, dju206, https://doi.org/10.1093/jnci/dju206, Published: 14 June 2014, https://academic.oup.com/jnci/article/106/7/dju206/1010488