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Avoid extra kilos and cut your risk of 13 cancers

Tuesday 15 November, 2016 by Kate H

Maintaining a healthy weight is an important way to reduce your risk of cancer, with obesity now linked to more cancer types than ever before.

A review of more than a thousand studies by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has found that being overweight or obese increases risk for at least 13 types of cancer.

It was previously known that being overweight or obese increased risk of five cancers: colorectal; uterine; kidney; breast cancer in postmenopausal women; and adenocarcinoma of the oesophagus.

The latest review, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, adds a further eight cancers to the list: liver; gallbladder; pancreas; thyroid; ovary; multiple myeloma (a blood cancer) and meningioma (a type of brain tumour).

Chairman of the working group, Dr Graham Colditz, told the New York Times that the 13 cancers together accounted for 42% of all new cancer diagnoses. He said only smoking came close as a preventable risk factor for cancer, underlining the importance of keeping off excess weight.

So we know it's important, but how do you avoid those extra kilos? Here are our top tips.

  1. Cut out sugary drinks
    They contain sugar your body does not need, and a lot of it! Many people are shocked to learn that a 600ml bottle of soft drink contains a whopping 16 teaspoons of sugar. Those unnecessary kilojoules can lead to weight gain and obesity.
  2. Limit junk food
    Pizzas, fried foods, potato chips, pies and pastries are not your friends. It's best to limit your intake of these foods by regarding them as treats, rather than part of your everyday diet. If you're eating out, follow LiveLighter's tips for ordering healthier options.
  3. Eat more vegetables instead
    Most Australians eat only half the recommended amount of vegetables and fruit – that's five serves of vegies and two serves of fruit each day. Tucking into fruit and veg in all colours of the rainbow will provide a mix of nutrients and keep the junk food cravings at bay – see LiveLighter's suggestions here.
  4. Let's get physical!
    Aiming for 30 minutes of exercise each day is an important way for adults aged 18–64 to reduce their risk of obesity. Keep it interesting with a mix of activities, from a weights workout at the gym to a swim session in the pool or a yoga or pilates class. You don't need a gym membership either – LiveLighter's resident fitness guru Margarita has some effective exercises you can do pretty much anywhere.
  5. Any exercise is better than none
    If you're not physically active, start by doing something and gradually build up to the recommended amount. Build physical activity into your day by getting off the bus a few stops earlier and walking the rest of the way, or take the stairs instead of the lift at work. Watch these funny tips on how to be more active from Aussie comedian Damian Callinan.

For more information and tips visit www.livelighter.com.au

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