Obesity and Cancer

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There are many well-known negative health effects associated with being overweight or obese, including heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, and chronic pain. People may not be aware that obesity is also one of the leading causes of cancer. A survey from 2017 indicated that only 31% of adults in the United States were aware of a link between obesity and cancer.

A recent report links obesity to 13 different types of cancer, including cancers of the breast, esophagus, pancreas, colon, gall bladder, liver, and kidney. In 2014, around 40% of all cancers were related to obesity. The incidence of several different cancers has been increasing along with the rise in obesity rates over the last 4 decades. The incidence of several obesity related cancers  is rising even in young adults in the United States, although the reasons for this are not clear.

Weight loss surgery has been shown to decrease cancer risk in women, particularly those types associated with obesity, including breast, endometrial, and colon cancer. More here

The Mediterranean Diet has been shown to protect against cancer, as well as obesity, cardiovascular disease, and aging. This diet emphasizes the consumption of plant based foods, nuts, legumes, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats. The cancer protective elements of this diet include fiber, antioxidants, and polyunsaturated fats.

The DASH diet (Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension) is also a good option for weight loss, lowering blood pressure, and reducing cancer risk. It emphasizes consumption of fruits, vegetables, low fat dairy foods, whole grains, fish and poultry. Cancer reduction from the DASH diet is due to increased fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.  The DASH diet was ranked the best diet for several years in a row by U.S. News and World Report because it is effective and easy to follow.

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