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Can a Healthy Weight and Exercise Prevent Cancer?

Over the last year major research has clearly shown your risk for some cancers goes up as you gain weight. Here were the most significant findings.

  • Excess body weight contributes to as many as 20 percent of all cancer-related deaths. And even if you aren’t overweight, a fatty belly is cancer-friendly: One study found men’s risk for aggressive prostate cancer rose 13 percent for every 3.9 inch increase in waist size; being overweight and/or obese also ups the risk for male breast cancer.
  • For women, a normal weight radically reduces the risk of breast, endometrial and ovarian cancer and recurrences.
  • And for everyone, the risk of colon, renal (kidney), esophageal, pancreatic, thyroid and gallbladder cancers, as well as stomach and liver cancer, meningioma (a type of brain tumor), lymphoma and multiple myeloma (a blood cancer) goes up as the pounds pile on (and down as excess weight comes off).
  • For every 10 years of obesity, a woman’s risk of endometrial cancer increases by 20-36 percent. 

That’s why you need to avoid all trans and most saturated fats, added sugars or syrups and any grain isn’t 100 percent whole. Stick with cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive oil and omega-3-rich foods like salmon, flaxseed and walnuts! Have 5-9 servings daily of fruits and veggies; make animal protein a side dish, or skip it completely! Pair that with an exercise or walking regimen, aiming for 10,000 steps a day. Regular exercise produces a 20 percent lower risk of cancers of the esophagus, lung, kidney, stomach and endometrium.

Medically reviewed in May 2018.

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