Weight loss programs can effectively reduce the risk of many cancers.
The United States has a high burden of cancer. The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2018 there will be more than 1.7 million new cases diagnosed and around 610,000 cancer deaths.
Studies strongly suggest that diet is associated with cancer. Obesity increases the risk of many types of cancer and several chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and chronic inflammation.
Obesity is associated with increased risk of developing and dying from the following cancers:
• breast (in postmenopausal women)
• kidney (renal cell)
• esophageal (adenocarcinoma)
• multiple myeloma
• meningioma (brain tumor)
• the progression, but not incidence, of prostate cancer
Dietary and lifestyle changes guided by a Certified Nutritionist or other qualified professionals can help reduce the incidence and progression of obesity-related cancers and support the recovery of cancer survivors.
Weight Loss Programs Can Eliminate 1/3 of Cancer Cases
Weight loss programs are an effective way to ward of many types of cancer.
About one third of cancer cases are estimated to be linked to dietary and other modifiable risk factors. This is especially true for obesity-related cancers such as breast, colorectal, ovarian, endometrial, kidney, gallbladder, esophageal, and pancreatic cancers.
In a special theme issue of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, food and nutrition practitioners and other health professionals took an in-depth look at the relationship between nutrition, obesity, and cancer prevention, treatment, and survival rates.
Why Weight Loss Programs Matter
Weight loss programs are more important than ever. According to Stephen D. Hursting, PhD, MPH, professor, Department of Nutrition, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: “Obesity-associated metabolic perturbations are emerging as major drivers of obesity-related cancer.”
Food Choices Matter on Weight Loss Programs
Don’t overlook the fact that the type of foods you eat, not just the total calories, matter on weight loss programs.
One important concept is Dietary Energy Consumption (DED). Foods that are energy dense, which means they contain a concentrated number of calories, are associated with weight gain in adults. DED is the ratio of energy intake to food weight and is a measure of diet quality. Think about the quantity of less energy dense foods like vegetables that you can consume, versus highly concentrated calories from oils and other fats for the same number of calories.
Cynthia A. Thomson, PhD, RD, professor, Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health, The University of Arizona investigated the association between baseline DED and obesity-associated cancers. She analyzed information on over 90,000 postmenopausal women who were enrolled the Women’s Health Initiative. That survey found that DED was associated with higher risk of any obesity-related cancer.
It’s also important to note that this higher risk was restricted to women with normal BMI. Dr. Thomson stated that:
• The demonstrated effect in normal-weight women in relation to risk for obesity-related cancers is novel and contrary to our hypothesis.
• This finding suggests that weight management alone may not protect against obesity-related cancers if women favor a diet pattern indicative of high energy density.
• Higher DED in normal-weight women may promote metabolic dysregulation independent of body weight, an exposure known to increase cancer risk.
Nancy J. Emenaker, PhD, MEd, RDN, LD, and Ashley J. Vargas, PhD, MPH, RDN, both registered dietitian nutritionists from the National Institutes of Health also reviewed scientific evidence linking diet and cancer.
They remarked that the inconsistencies in the nutrition and cancer scientific literature make it challenging and confusing to translate this complex information for clients or patients. Seek out a Certified Nutritionist or Registered Dietitian to obtain the needed assistance to help you effectively change your diet and avoid obesity.
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