Cancer Prevention and Obesity

With the passing of each month the importance of healthy diet, lifestyle and exercise in Cancer Prevention becomes more evident.

Recent studies in USA have shown that unhealthy lifestyle factors are responsible for over 70% of a number of different Cancers diagnosed; cancers that could well have been prevented by improved diet, a healthy lifestyle and adequate exercise.   We all know the danger of lung cancer from smoking, but most are ignorant of the risk of throat cancer from alcohol excess or the many cancer risks from obesity.

Recent World Health Organisation statistics for the EU show that 40-50% of men and 25-35% of women are overweight thanks to poor diet and sedentary habits, and some 50% of these are obese. In USA the figures are worse: 68% of adults are overweight and 33.8% obese.

Most overweight people are on the way to becoming obese and are unaware that, as well as causing severe health problems, obesity is now a major causation factor or risk elevation for a considerable number of cancers. Indeed obesity looks set to overtake smoking as the major cause of cancer.

The list of cancers that can be caused from obesity is daunting: cervical; colorectal; endometrial, (lining of the uterus); oesophagus, (gullet); hepatocellular, (subtype of liver cancer); gallbladder; kidney; malignant melanoma; post-menopausal breast cancer; and non-Hodgkinson’s Lymphoma; thyroid cancer.

The present parlous state of the NHS in the UK, together with the US President’s desire to slash federal funding for Medicare, Medicaid and the US Institute of National Health, make the reduction of obesity ever more crucial in primary cancer prevention as well as in cancerous growth and metastasis, (development of secondary malignant tumour growths at a distance from a primary cancer site).

In addition to essential weight loss and a healthy lifestyle in cancer prevention, there are a number of plant-based foods that have nutrients, which appear in studies to have cancer-preventive properties as well as inhibiting cancer growth and metastasis. Unlike sugar, which feeds sucrose-loving cancer tumours, they help to starve and eliminate cancer cells and the growth of blood cells that tumours feed on. Their phytochemicals interfere with the cellular communication that triggers inflammation and stimulates the emergence and progression of cancer tumours in the body.  In effect they become biological response modifiers, changing the way the body works.

While all the nutrients shown below can be taken as (sometimes expensive) supplements, they are present in the sort of fresh organic vegetables, fruits, fish and dairy products that can be found in healthy eating such as the Mediterranean Diet. 

Ursolic Acid.  
Present in apples, basil, bilberries, cranberries, elderflower, peppermint, rosemary, lavender, oregano, thyme, hawthorn, prunes.

Vitamin D.
Present in wild caught, (as opposed to farmed)  fatty fish like salmon, free range eggs, whole milk, Sunlight. Cooking reduces vitamin D by 30%.

Present in turmeric root.

Present in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale. Also in kohlrabi, turnip, radish, watercress.

Present in onions, capers, blackberries, dark cherries, cocoa, kale, apples.

Present in fresh grapefruit, onions, oranges, parsley, chamomile tea.

Present in green peppers, celery, chamomile tea.

Present in rhubarb,

 Further Reading
The Association between Obesity and Cancer
Frugal Chemoprevention

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