Obesity's Link to Higher Risk for Colon Cancer: What You Can Do
Cancer is one of the scariest words for anyone to hear, isn’t it? When people think of cancer they usually go to the worst case scenario: death.
When people think of being overweight or obese you don’t usually think of death. instead you usually think of issues like high cholesterol, high blood pressure and at worst, increased risk of diabetes or heart disease. Nothing that seems life-threatening.
However obesity is being linked more and more to increased risk of cancer, especially colon cancer.
Often, when we think about obesity we think in terms of body image – how we look in comparison to the thin models on the runaway. It can stir up emotional feelings of inadequacy, and being upset about how we feel about ourselves.
We need to start looking at obesity as a medical term that impacts our health in so many different ways.
Obesity is measured by the body mass index which roughly compares someone’s height in relationship to their weight. In general, a higher BMI indicates a higher amount of body fat.
If someone has a BMI of 18-24.9 they are considered to be at a normal weight. Between 25 and 29.9, they fall into the category of overweight. If someone’s BMI is greater than 30 they are considered obese.
More and more research is being conducted to understand what the exact link is between obesity and increased incidence of cancer, and fatalities related to cardiovascular disease.
Currently, researchers believe that the connection is related to higher levels of inflammation and higher levels of insulin and other hormones that regulate fat storage and blood sugar levels.
Colon cancer, a type of colorectal cancer, is cancer of the lower intestines and/or the rectum. Generally, colorectal cancer starts out as a non-cancerous polyp that can be found during a colonoscopy, a routine screening for people starting at 50 years of age.
If a family has a history of colon cancer the screenings can start as early as 40 years of age. Polyps found during testing can be removed and checked to see if they are cancerous or noncancerous.
This is good news for anyone that has polyps because it can be a signal for changing lifestyle habits to reduce risk for cancer in the future.
How can you reduce your risks of colon cancer?
Reduce your excess weight and aim for a normal BMI for your height. This can be achieved through a healthy diet, moderate activity and stress management.
If you are having trouble creating or maintaining a plan to help you do this — get help! Working with a naturopathic doctor like myself or an expert in nutrition, as well as a fitness professional, can make all the difference!
People that have outside support lose more weight and keep it off than people who try to lose on their own.