Articles for Our Patients ~ Keith Kusunis, MD

Cancer Prevention: Eat Less - Exercise more!

Author: Keith Kusunis, MD • Language: ENG

Increased body fat doesn’t just make us buy new clothes. It also increases our risk of heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, sleep apnea, physical disability, heartburn, etc. And it actually increases the risk of cancer!
    These cancers may occur more commonly with obesity:  
-    cancer of the uterus (endometrium)
-    cancer of the breast
-    cancer of the ovary
-    cancer of the kidney
-    cancer of the esophagus
-    cancer of the pancreas
-    cancer of the colon
    More than one third of endometrial cancers are caused by obesity.  
The other cancers listed above have a weaker association with weight.
    Cancers of the endometrium are likely increased because fat makes estrogen but not progesterone. Estrogen makes the endometrium (the inner lining of the uterus) grow. Progesterone tends to make the endometrium shrink. So obesity causes a hormone imbalance which encourages endometrial growth and possibly cancer.
    Esophageal adenocarcinoma is the type of esophagus cancer that is increased by weight. The possible mechanism to cause this is that as abdominal fat increases, there is more abdominal pressure which pushes stomach acid up into the esophagus. Stomach acid in the esophagus causes inflammation and damage which some people feel as heartburn. The body’s attempts at repairing the damage may be what lead to more cancers.

But here’s the problem.
    I don’t know many overweight or obese people who don’t want to lose weight. Here are a few things that some have found helpful fighting the devil adipocyte (fat cell).
    Habits are quite difficult to stop, like eating too much. It is easier to replace habits with something else than to stop them. A simple example is that it is easier to replace drinking a soda with drinking diet soda or a bottle of water, than to just quit drinking soda.
    I realize that this is a generalization, but frequently normal size people eat three or more small meals throughout the day. Overweight people eat two meals a day and obese people eat one meal per day.
•    Breakfast is very important—it tells us if we ate too much last night. Not being hungry in the morning means there were too many calorie consumed the night before.
•    Fat makes fat. Contrary to popular belief, fat has more than twice
the calories of the same weight of proteins or carbohydrates (sugars and starches). That fat makes fat makes sense, as fat is where our bodies store energy. So the egg yolk (fat) has more calories than egg white (protein). The margarine (fat) has more calories than the toast (starch).
•    Good habits, like physical activity, can be addicting too. Many people do not find physical activity pleasant because they aren’t yet addicted. GET ADDICTED! Fifteen minutes of good physical activity every single day for a couple weeks will make that biking, fast walking, running, pool exercises, swimming, spinning, or any other aerobic activity something to look forward to, instead of something to put-off.
•    Get help. Learning what to eat and what not to eat is what dieticians specialize in.
•    Get more help. The last time I checked, people who use the Weight
Watchers program have the best long-term success at weight reduction.
Not the fastest initial weight loss, but the best long-term weight loss.
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