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Weight Loss & Cancer Prevention - The Lifestyle Connection

by Jeanne Rhodes

Lose weight permanently while you reduce your chances of cancer at the same time - this is the promise of a wellness lifestyle change! Too good to be true? Not so, say most of today’s leading nutrition experts. Changing your biology through healthy lifestyle choices to burn more fat requires the same strategies that are known to reduce your risk of today’s major killers including cancer. Most nutrition experts now feel that diet and lifestyle play a leading role in cancer prevention.

Dr. Richard Rivlin of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center addressed the American Institute of Cancer Research by stating that in the near future we will be able to design individual diets or supplement plans where we can prevent disease. Dr. Rivlin says when he advises his own patients he speaks in terms of promising areas of research such as soy, garlic, tomatoes, tea, selenium and reducing fat intake. All of these have been shown to help reduce prostate and colon cancer.

Taking this even further, Dr. David Heber, director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of California Los Angeles School of Medicine, states that the majority of cancers could be prevented through changes in diet and lifestyle. The idea that cancer developed solely because of a genetic predisposition is now known to be untrue, Dr. Heber states. He feels that newer research substantiates the theory that genes could perhaps be prevented from mutation by changing dietary intake.

The fact that dietary and lifestyle change must be permanent was stressed by Dr. Rivlin who also stated that it may take years of a healthy mostly plant-based diet.

Dr. John Potter, head of Cancer Prevention and Research at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research in Seattle, Washington states that cancer is more preventable by diet and lifestyle changes than most people think - a message The National Cancer Institute has been promoting since the 1970s. Dr. Potter states that this message hasn’t stuck because people think cancer is not preventable, so why try diet? But, he feels that is beginning to change.

One cautionary note - weight loss “diets” - low calorie, high protein, etc. will not deliver permanent weight loss nor will they create these healthy changes! Permanent weight loss with all of the above health benefits requires a Wellness Lifestyle!

So, here’s the connection - the same healthy lifestyle that changes your biology to lose weight is also the same lifestyle that will help prevent cancer. The following guidelines that are recommended to reduce your risk for cancer are literally the same that will reduce your body fat:

1) Plant foods - increase the variety and amount of vegetables and fruits and make sure you have a low refined carbohydrate intake.

2) Physical activity - an hour’s brisk walk (or similar exercise) daily.

3) Choose minimally processed foods and limit refined sugar and white flour foods.

4) Limit red meat - choose more fish, poultry, and seafood.

5) Limit fatty foods-particularly those of animal origin. Use modest amounts of olive and canola oils.

6) Limit salt and salted foods.

7) Alcohol consumption is not recommended.

8) Eat a variety of grains, legumes, roots and tubers.

The bottom line is this - anything you do to increase health will reduce body fat. Why? Too much body fat is a symptom of an unhealthy biology. Correct your biology through a Wellness Lifestyle and you’ve corrected the problem, which means permanent weight loss with a bonus - a reduction in your chance of all diseases from the common virus all the way to cancer and everything in between!

Rhodes, B.A., M.A., is a Nutritionist, Wellness Lifestyle Strategist, Author, and Director of Rhodes Preventive Health Institute in Hagerstown.

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