Older people who are obese have a higher risk of cancer
We’ve always known that one of the cruelties of life is that the things we love to eat, the things that taste the best, aren’t usually very good for you.
We know what bad (and therefore good) food does. It gains weight, makes people overweight, and even worse, obese. But here’s something most people don’t know at night: Being overweight or obese is linked to 40% of cancers in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Even more alarming: obesity is linked to the vast majority – about two in three – of cancers in adults aged 50 to 74. body fat is associated with increased risks of a number of cancers, including some of the most common:
Liver cancer: People who are overweight or obese are up to twice as likely as people of normal weight to develop liver cancer. The association between overweight / obesity and liver cancer is stronger in men than in women.
Kidney cancer: People who are overweight or obese are almost twice as likely as people of normal weight to develop kidney cancer, the most common form of kidney cancer. The association of kidney cell cancer with obesity is independent of its association with high blood pressure, a known risk factor for kidney cancer.
Pancreatic cancer: People who are overweight or obese are about 1.5 times more likely to develop pancreatic cancer than people of normal weight.
Colorectal cancer: People who are obese are slightly (about 30%) more likely to develop colorectal cancer than people of normal weight.
Breast cancer: Numerous studies have shown that in postmenopausal women, a higher body mass index (BMI) is associated with a modest increase in breast cancer risk. For example, a 5 unit increase in BMI (more details below) is associated with a 12% increase in risk. Obesity is also a risk factor for breast cancer in men.
There are a lot more cancers, obviously, but you get the idea here.
As for Body Mass Index, you probably know what it is – it’s a number based on your height and weight. The lower the number, the better. You can Calculate your BMI here:
The CDC says your BMI is “a fairly reliable indicator of body fat for most people and is used to screen for weight classes that may cause health problems.”
Meanwhile, eating well has another huge benefit – it can strengthen our defenses against some of the most dreaded diseases of old age, like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Before going any further, I would like to point out that some people abuse these terms. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, “Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative disease of the brain and the most common form of dementia. Dementia is not a specific disease. It is a general term that describes a group of symptoms.
Regardless of this distinction, both afflictions can be fought by eating well. I have already written about the amazing research conducted by Dr. Uma Naidoo of Harvard University, a nutritional psychiatrist, faculty member of the famous Harvard Medical School and author of “This is your brain on food. “
Do you want to keep your memory sharp and maintain your ability to concentrate in old age? Naidoo writes in a blog post that you should avoid these foods:
- Added sugars. Things like baked goods, sodas, and breakfast cereals. Become a label reader. Women should not consume more than 25 grams of added sugar per day; men 36.
- Fried food. French fries, onion rings, fried chicken. We love these foods, but they cause inflammation which can damage the blood vessels that carry oxygenated blood to the brain.
- Carbohydrate-rich foods like white bread, white rice, pasta, and anything made from refined flour. Stick to “higher quality” carbohydrates, such as whole grains and foods high in fiber.
- Nitrates—deli meats like bacon, salami, and sausage – nitrates may be linked to depression. Naidoo cites a study as saying that “nitrated meat products are associated with mania in humans and altered behavior and expression of brain genes in rats.”
- Alcohol is not just loaded with sugar, but doing too much, the British Medical Journal reports, carries a higher risk of dementia. But go ahead and have a drink every now and then: the report adds that abstaining from alcohol completely can also be harmful. I guess the advice here is all in moderation.
Of course, eating well is essential, but to stay really fit you also need to exercise. The general recommendation is well known: most older people should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week (about 20 minutes per day), 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise (about 10 minutes per day).