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Tackling Obesity to Reduce Risk for Cancer

Tackling Obesity to Reduce Risk for Cancer

7 February 2019


Millennials, I'm talking to you!

Monday was World Cancer Day, and the media releases that I saw on that day were very interesting as they were all about a healthy and preventative lifestyle! Even the Sydney Morning Herald led with the headline "Exercise and healthy diet key to reducing cancer rates, research shows"


Two of the biggest risk factors that lead to increased risk of cancer incidence and recurrence is the combination of obesity and sedentary lifestyle.

And let's face it, here in Australia we are the 'winners' of two of the most concerning titles:

  1. Australia wins as the most overweight country; 
  2. Australia wins as the highest cancer incidence: a recent analysis by the World Cancer Research Fund finding that Australia has "the highest cancer rates for men and women combined" at 468 cases per 100,000 people, which is higher than the USA at 352 per 100,000 people.

Oh dear...

Even more concerning is the new research that evaluates cancer incidence in young people:

  • A study published in Lancet Public Health by the American Cancer Society finding that cancers fuelled by obesity are on the rise among young adults in the United States and appearing at increasingly younger ages.
  • In young adults ages 25 to 29, over the last 20 years, kidney cancer rates have increased 6.2 percent every year. Other obesity-related cancers such as pancreatic, gallbladder, colorectal and endometrial cancers are also rising in the younger age group. To put this in perspective, when baby boomers were younger, their risk for some of these obesity-related cancers was half the rate that our millennial thirty-somethings face today.
  • Right now, obesity is the second most common preventable cause of cancer after tobacco. With the decline in smoking, it is expected that obesity will become the primary cause of preventable cancer in young adults.
  • And sedentary behaviour is an issue. A study published in JNCI Cancer Spectrum has identified sedentary behaviour as a potential independent risk factor to explain the sharp rise in colorectal cancer among those under 50. The study used TV viewing as well as other behaviour as a measure of lifestyle in 90,000 American women, and found that more than one hour of daily TV viewing was associated with a 12 percent increase in risk of colorectal cancer, while watching more than two hours per day was linked to a striking 70 percent increase in risk!


So all you people sitting sedentary reading this blog (oh the irony) - What are we going to do about it?

  1. Be active: you don't have to join a gym or start an intense program. Just move, a bit more today than yesterday. That's your mantra to start: A bit more today than yesterday.
  2. Stand more, sit less. Stand right now and tilt that monitor up a bit, pop a couple of books under the laptop or invest in a sit/stand table. Mine only cost $250 new and it's so easy to use; a few cranks of the handle and you're standing. Get a cheap rubber mat to stand on for extra support.
  3. Get off the tram one stop earlier, park that little bit further away so that you increase incidental exercise.
  4. Don't eat in front of a screen. That mindful eating turns into mindless eating - and before you know it that packet is empty.
  5. Reduce processed foods in your diet. When you go shopping, if a packet has ingredients that are numbers, or there are ingredients you wouldn't see in your own pantry - it's processed!
  6. Cook at home instead of eating out. It's always healthier.


At MIOG, we are experienced in helping you reach a better state of health and modify these risk factors bit by bit, so it's not too overwhelming. We also offer cooking workshops to help you get started. Give us a ring on +61 95717498 to make an appointment and change your health outcomes!



About the Author: Tanya Wells

Tanya is our lead clinician here at MIOG. She is a Naturopath with over 15 years experience in Integrative Oncology. She is also an experienced lecturer at tertiary level, and was a tutor for the Faculty of Medicine at Monash University.
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