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Obesity significantly increases the risk of cancer
Obesity is a high risk factor for cancer. This has become increasingly clear in recent years thanks to numerous research projects. However, the exact mechanisms are still unknown to scientists. Nutritionists and doctors are currently discussing the topic of "Nutrition and Prevention - Opportunities and Limits" at the annual conference of the German Nutrition Society.
Obesity becomes the main risk factor While smoking was considered the main risk factor for cancer a year ago, today it appears to be being replaced by obesity and obesity. Because more and more people are almost obese in the western industrialized countries. According to experts, the total number of overweight people is stagnating, but it continues to increase, especially among young people. The number of extremely overweight people is also increasing. The reasons for this are to be found on the one hand in the wide range of food available in the western wealthy countries. However, the psychological component of obesity should not be underestimated. Nowadays, eating often no longer takes on the "classic function" of nutrition and satisfying the feeling of hunger, but is increasingly serving to satisfy other needs. "Frustration eating" seems more "hip" than ever. In everyday life, however, the calories are rarely trained again. "It is better to relax on the couch in front of the television than to go jogging after work," seems to be a common motto.
Nutrition researchers, scientists and doctors raise the alarm: "It is becoming increasingly clear that obesity is a very strong promoter of cancer," explains nutritionist Hans Hauner at the current annual conference of the German Society for Nutrition (DGE). "Not just colon cancer, but Breast cancer is also favored by obesity. The mechanisms are still not entirely clear today. " At the congress on "Nutrition and Prevention - Opportunities and Limits", more than 800 experts are currently discussing against the background of constantly increasing numbers of nutritional diseases and the simultaneously increasing cost pressure in the health system. "The flip side of the oversupply of food is the enormously increasing expenditure in the health sector by being overweight, "warn many experts.
Are Hormones Crucial for Cancer? Hauner believes that the hormone insulin promotes the development of malignant tumors. Insulin levels are above average in overweight people. The nutritionist explained that large amounts of fat lead to reduced absorption of insulin. As a result, the pancreas then produces even more insulin, which actually lowers the blood sugar level. "Insulin levels rise and may act as a growth factor for cancer cells," says Hauner.
There is a suspicion that breast cancer may be favored by an increased level of the female sex hormone estrogen when overweight. The estrogen produced in the fat cells may also promote the development of cancer tumors. The nutritionist further reports that it has been known for a long time that hormone replacement therapies with estrogen could result in an increase in breast cancer rates. These therapies are used by menopausal women to relieve menopausal symptoms.
Red meat from sheep, beef or pork also promotes the development of cancer cells. Although the consumption of chocolate, gummy bears etc. leads to obesity and type 2 diabetes, high sugar consumption does not seem to favor the development of malignant tumors. "Sugar does not seem to play a prominent role in cancer," says Hauner of the results of current studies.
High-fiber diet reduces cancer risk To reduce the risk of cancer from obesity, the most important recommendation is to reduce the body size if you are already overweight. To do this, those affected often have to completely separate from their old and harmful ways of life and change their lifestyle. A healthy balanced and high-fiber diet should have a permanent place in everyday life. This often requires a fundamental rethinking of those affected. For many, however, this is precisely a major hurdle that can often only be achieved with the support of therapists. In many cases, overweight people have suffered from obesity since childhood. They have to learn a new way of life right from the start. "Not an easy undertaking when advertising and supermarkets invite you to indulge in unbridled feasting," reports the prospective psychotherapist and graduate teacher Gritli Bertram from Hanover.
Nutrition experts advise at least five servings of vegetables and fruits a day. Because fruits and vegetables contain so-called bioactive substances that are more likely to reduce the risk of cancer. Instead of a lot of meat and sausages, fish and poultry should be used. Cereal products made from whole grains, legumes and potatoes should also be an integral part of the daily menu. According to experts, the "Mediterranean food" is particularly recommended. This contains a lot of vegetables, lettuce and fish as well as high-quality olive or rapeseed oil. This could reduce the risk of breast, colon and pancreatic cancer.
Exercise can reduce the risk of cancer According to the motto "Exercise is the best medicine", the German Cancer Society (DKG) has established ten rules to reduce the risk of cancer. The association provides information on the advantages of sporting activities on its website. Movement stimulates the circulation, strengthens the body's defenses, lowers blood lipids and increases general performance. Overall, sporting activity "leads to a better quality of life and even reduces the risk of developing cancer". Around 14 percent of all premature deaths in Germany can be attributed to a lack of exercise, reports the DKG. 20-25 percent of today's costs that arise from illnesses are at least partly caused by a lack of exercise.
In order to reduce the risk of cancer, the specialist society advises 30 minutes of exercise three days a week. The current physical condition should be taken into account when choosing the right sport. "In case of doubt, the family doctor can provide information about physical resilience". A heart rate monitor is also helpful to avoid excessive stress. Endurance sports are therefore particularly effective: These include, for example, cycling, swimming and running. Overweight people need to be careful not to strain their joints too much. "Tai Chi can be particularly suitable because the movements are performed very slowly and in a way that is gentle on the joints," says Bertram. (ag)
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