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High-Cal Foods May Raise Cancer Risk in Women, Even Without Weight Gain

High-Cal Foods May Raise Cancer Risk in Women, Even Without Weight Gain

“Women who eat junk food such as burgers or pizza are increasing their risk of cancer even if they’re not overweight, new research has warned,” reports the Daily Mail. The story is based on research from the US looking at the diet of postmenopausal women in the 1990s and then tracking the development of a variety of cancers over about 15 years.

Having a diet high in energy dense foods, such as biscuits, chocolate and pizza were found to increase the risk of cancer in these women, specifically in those of a healthy weight, which was defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of between 18.5 and 24.9. This suggests that having a healthy weight does not necessarily protect against cancer risk. The analysis was limited to postmenopausal women and did not consider drink intake, such as sugary drinks and alcohol, which can also be high in calories.

Still, having a healthy, balanced diet will help you get all the nutrients you need and may reduce your risk of developing cancer. The researchers took data from 92,295 women participating in the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) study in the US, a longitudinal study involving healthy, postmenopausal women recruited between 1995-1998 who were between 50 and 79 years old.

The association between an energy dense diet and cancer was investigated over an average 14.6 year follow-up period. The researchers excluded women who had a history of cancer, and those with a lack of dietary data, missing BMI data, or who reported consuming fewer than 600 calories or more than 5,000 calories per day.

Diet was assessed by self-report at the start of the study using a food frequency questionnaire designed to estimate energy, nutrients and food weight. Those who ate the most calorie-dense foods (enough to land them from the top 40 percent) were 12 to 18 percent more likely to develop obesity-related cancer, versus women who ate relatively few of those foods.  People who eat lots of calorie-laden foods tend to eat few “plan, that means they’ll be low on the fiber, vitamins and other nutrients that may help curb the risk of certain cancerous-based foods,” including fruits, vegetal. But many calorie-dense foods are relatively low in nutrients. In general, processed foods (chips, crackers, and prepared dressings), fast foods (cheeseburgers and pizza), and candy bars fall into that category vegetables, beans, and whole grains. That was with other factors taken into account — including age, overall health, and smoking, drinking and exercise habits.

Besides quitting smoking, some of the most important things you can do to help reduce your cancer risk are:

  • Get to and stay at a healthy weight throughout life.
  • Be physically active on a regular basis.
  • Make healthy food choices with a focus on plant-based foods.
  • Control your weight
  • Getting to and staying at a healthy weight is important to reduce the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes. Being overweight or obese increases the risk of several cancers, including those of the breast (in women past menopause), colon and rectum, endometrium (the lining of the uterus), esophagus, pancreas, and kidney, among others.
  • Being overweight can increase cancer risk in many ways. One of the main ways is that excess weight causes the body to produce and circulate more estrogen and insulin, hormones that can stimulate cancer growth.

Be more active.

Watching how much you eat will help you control your weight. The other key is to be more physically active. Being active helps reduce your cancer risk by helping with weight control. It can also help improve your hormone levels and the way your immune system works.

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