Disturbing news emerged this month as the result of a recent study published in the American Journal of Public Health: Less than one percent of people who are obese today will be able to attain or maintain a “normal” weight in their lifetime. Though these chances are higher for women (1 in 124 vs. 1 in 210 for men), this report highlights a disturbing trend in America and has us urologists thinking about many of the “trickle down” health implications – including kidney cancer.
Those who are severely overweight or obese are at a higher risk of developing kidney cancer and research has demonstrated that women who are obese actually have higher odds (up to 40 percent higher) of kidney cancer than women who have a BMI that is within the “normal” range. There are several possibilities that make this risk so much higher including the production of hormones within the body’s fat cells, namely carcinogenic estrogen. You see, this type of estrogen has long been studied in humans as a cancer "encourager."
Though the recent news on the obesity front is less than positive, all is not lost. Because with all this new knowledge and widely publicized information, comes the equally plentiful opportunities to combat it. We know more now about cancer and its connections to obesity than ever before and we have countless ways to help address it. The statistics are alarming. But they aren’t unbeatable. Take a look at these small changes you can make today that can add up to maintaining a healthier body weight and reducing cancer risks:
• Load up on fiber-rich foods to help the body absorb less calories.
• Dance! Out with your special someone, your girlfriends or simply in the comfort of your living room. Dancing to fast-tempo music can torch as many calories as jogging on the treadmill but it’s probably more fun for most people.
• Consider eliminating or reducing your alcohol intake. Not only will this step help you beat alcohol-induced bloating, it is also proven to reduce certain cancer risks – including kidney.
• Don’t smoke. This isn’t exactly a weight-loss tip, it’s a general health tip that is crucial. Smoking increases the risks of developing so many different types of cancer that it simply isn’t worth it. If you need help quitting, talk to your doctor. He or she will have plenty of resources to put you on a path for smoke-free success.
• Make dinner the final food you eat for the rest of the day. Cutting out late-night snacking can help to stave off unwanted pounds. To make this one work, trying having dinner a little later and then working back to a more normal dinner hour once you’ve made the no-snacking-after-dinner habit a solid one.
American society today has unfortunately made the losing formula of eat more + move less a bad and dangerous habit. But all habits can be broken. It simply takes commitment and effort. You can cut your “lifestyle” cancer risks down to zero by taking healthier steps in your everyday living. Your body will reward you for it down the road.