For Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Extra Weight = Increased Cancer Risk

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month!

This is the second October Fit Talk post dedicated to increasing awareness of disease prevention.

60%+ of cancer illnesses and deaths are preventable!

Smoking is responsible for one third of all cancer illnesses and deaths.  Physical activity and diet are responsible for the other third.  A fact well-documented in numerous studies performed by the American Cancer Society (ACS) as well as the World Cancer Research Fund:  Extra pounds mean extra cancer risk.

Obesity is clearly linked to several cancers including cancer of the esophagus, colon, rectum, ovary, breast, kidney, gallbladder and thyroid.   Excess fat cells can produce atypical amounts of hormones that can alter insulin levels, inhibit cell growth and promote the development of tumors… all cancer-causing triggers.

Now is the time to take responsibility for your health and your life.  Implement these top 5 risk reduction strategies now to minimize your risk:

1. Quit smoking.  Quitting smoking can reduce your risk of cancer by 30-50% within 5-10 years of quitting compared to continuing smokers.

2. Stop gaining weight.  Aim to take 100-200 calories per day out of your current diet and get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise (brisk walking qualifies) every single day.

3. Cut way back on fast food.  Eliminate it altogether if possible.

4. Limit alcohol or avoid it altogether.  Absolutely no more than two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women.

5. Eat a healthy diet.  Eat mostly foods of plant origin and unprocessed grains.  Limit refined starchy foods and red meat.

Bottom Line:  Overweight and sedentary lifestyle is a leading cause of cancer, second only to smoking.  While none of us can eliminate our risk for cancer entirely, we can not ignore the fact that we do have the power to reduce our risk.  Trimming down to a healthy weight (or better yet avoiding becoming overweight to begin with) is clearly within our control.  Follow the tips above and talk to your doctor about other ways to lower your risk.  If you think losing weight is hard, you’re right… but it doesn’t compare to living with or dying from cancer.

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