Beat the cancer-obesity trap with diet, exercise

Q: My mom's obese, and I've been worried about her health for a while. Now I read that she's at high cancer risk because of it. Is that really true? — Steve W., Toronto

A: You're probably referring to the latest study of 5.2 million adults showing that weight plays a role in developing 17 of 22 forms of cancer. So yes, it's true. In the past 50 years, we have seen a precipitous increase in cancers triggered by being overweight or obese. Each 5-kilogram increase (11 pounds) in body weight pushes up the risk for cancer of the uterus 62 percent, cancer of the gallbladder 31 percent, kidney 25 percent, cervix 10 percent, thyroid 9 percent and leukemia 9 percent. In addition, your overall risk for cancer of the colon, liver, ovary and breast goes up as your weight does.

But we're here to help you find solutions on how to fight and win the weight-gain, cancer-causing war through simple dietary changes, emotional support and exercise.

Diet advice: A new study says a low-carb diet is most effective for short-term weight loss. We say that a no-refined-carb diet is better! Stick with 100 percent whole grains; their fiber prevents colon cancer and regulates blood sugar, and they supply essential nutrients. Aim for at least two servings a day, plus 5-9 servings of fruits and veggies.

Workout encouragement: Buy a pedometer and wear it always. You're aiming for 10,000 steps a day. You'll discover that by setting realistic goals (such as losing one pound a week), your mom can dodge overweight-related cancers, plus heart disease and diabetes associated with packing on pounds.

Emotional support: Join a group (the three most popular prepared-menu diet plans all work well if you stick to them). Talk with a nutritionist; some make house calls!

Dr. Mehmet Oz is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Dr. Michael Roizen is chief medical officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. For more information go to www.sharecare.com.

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