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13 More Reasons to Take Care of Yourself

IDC Introduction: IDC believes that healthcare innovation can be leveraged from many sectors of the industry. Our guest contributor in this blog post is from one of our active investment companies in the health and wellness domain.

A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine conducted by the International Agency for Research on Cancer has found solid evidence that being overweight or obese increases the risk for at least 13 types of cancer, which account for 42% of all new cancer diagnoses. Obesity has been growing in the US for over 20 years. Presently 1 in 3 Americans are obese.

We already know of five cancers that are linked to being overweight or obese: adenocarcinoma of the esophagus; colorectal cancer; breast cancer in postmenopausal women; and uterine and kidney cancers. From this study, we now know of eight new cancers related to having excess fat: gastric cardia, a cancer of the part of the stomach closest to the esophagus; liver cancer; gallbladder cancer; pancreatic cancer; thyroid cancer; ovarian cancer; meningioma, a usually benign type of brain tumor; and multiple myeloma, a blood cancer. The strongest association they found was with uterine cancer and postmenopausal breast cancer that is also connected to obesity, especially estrogen receptor positive cancer.

Your risk goes up with every point of body mass index (BMI). You are classified overweight if your BMI is 25 to 29.9 and obese if you are 30 or over. As well as being linked to a raised risk of the cancers listed above, if you are carrying excess body weight, this has a number of health risks, including a greater chance of having a heart attack or stroke.

The easiest way to keep to a healthy weight is to avoid putting weight on, but if you already weigh more than your individual target , diet and exercise can help you achieve a more optimum weight. The study said that leisure-time physical activity was associated with a lower risk of colon, breast, and endometrial cancers. Leisure-time physical activity is known to reduce risks of heart disease and many types of cancer. Leisure-time physical activity is defined as “exercise done at one’s own discretion, often to improve or maintain fitness or health”. Examples include: “walking, running, swimming, and other moderate to vigorous intensity activities”. This means about 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week.

"The burden of cancer due to being overweight or obese is more extensive than what has been assumed," said IARC Working Group chair Graham Colditz of the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. "Lifestyle factors such as eating healthy foods, maintaining a healthy weight and exercising, in addition to not smoking, can have a significant impact on reducing cancer risk," Colditz said. "This is another wake-up call. It's time to take our health and our diets seriously."

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