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PensiveAuburnWoman-rMost of us know that being overweight or obese can increase the risk for health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, and heart disease, amongst others.  Yet, most of us are less aware that being overweight or obese can also increase the risk of developing cancer.  According to the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), only 50% of Americans are aware of the link between obesity and cancer.  An estimated 121,700 new cancer cases each year are related to excess weight, and about 20% of all cancer deaths in the United States can be attributed to excess weight.  Nonetheless, 19% of pancreatic cancers, 24% of kidney cancers, 38% of breast cancers, 50% of colon and rectal cancers, and 69% of throat cancers can be prevented by maintaining a healthy weight, balanced diet, and by increasing physical activity.

Here are some ideas for maintaining a healthy weight and balanced diet:

Limit salt consumption: High salt consumption has been associated with an increased risk for stomach and throat cancer, as salt can damage the stomach lining.  Processed meat has a high content of salt, especially when it is salt-cured or salt-pickled.  Other processed foods to look out for include but is not limited to chips, canned soups, frozen meals, and flavored noodles.  Limiting salt consumption also helps you lose weight by decreasing the amount of excess water that your body retains.

Avoid sugar-sweetened beverages: Juice with added sugar, soda, and sweet tea are some examples of sugar-sweetened beverages.  They are easy to consume and make it very easy to increase our total daily calorie intake.  Unfortunately, these sugar-sweetened drinks offer minimal to no nutritional value.  Since they are high in carbohydrates, we gain weight instead of lose weight.

Increase your plant-based intake: Fruits and vegetables provide your body with numerous vitamins and minerals that are necessary for normal bodily functions.  They also have a high content of fiber that is healthy for your intestines, improves your body’s ability to digest foods, and helps with weight management.  Fruits and vegetables tend to carry more volume, and thus, help you feel full.  Moreover, the fiber helps you lose weight by moving along the waste products in your body.  Plus, the antioxidants content in fruits and vegetables help protect your body from cancer-causing substances.

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