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Obesity Tied to Advanced Breast Cancer in African Americans

3 generations of black women cookingThe evidence is clear that excess abdominal fat and obesity increase the risk of post-menopausal breast cancer among all women. Now new studies are finding that obesity increases the risk of a more advanced cancer diagnosis among African American women specifically.

"In general, African Americans tend to have breast cancer at an earlier age and it is more advanced," says Elisa V. Bandera, a researcher at the Cancer Institute of New Jersey, and also an expert panelist on AICR/WCRF's Continuous Update Project.

It's possible the more advanced tumors related to weight are due to higher levels of estrogen or other hormones, says Bandera.

About half of African American women are obese, compared to about one-third of Caucasian women, notes Bandera. "Because it is linked to a more advanced cancer, that is one important reason for women to pay attention to their weight," she says.

Obesity and Cancer: What You Need to Know

In the latest annual Report to the Nation on the Status of Cancer, coauthored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries, the National Cancer Institute, and the American Cancer Society, the authors note that while fewer Americans are smoking – the number one cause of preventable cancers – more and more of us are overweight and/or inactive.

As AICR has been saying for years, overweight and inactivity cause tens of thousands of cancer cases in America every year. In fact, just by eating smart, staying lean, and moving more, AICR estimates that we could prevent more than 340,000 cancers per year in the US.

Most Americans now know that not smoking is the single most important thing you can do to prevent cancer.

Far more people need to know, however, that obesity, inactivity, and poor diets are just as risky as smoking when it comes to developing cancer. The same strong public awareness campaigns that educated us about the dangers of smoking also need to focus on other health risks for cancer.

HealthTalk

Are You Nuts?

You may think you're getting a mixed message when told, on one hand, that weight control is important for lowering your risk of heart disease and cancer, but then see that high-calorie nuts are included in so many health-oriented diets.

Nuts are indeed concentrated in calories – so don't sit down with a big bowl and munch away in front of the TV – but they also contain many nutrients and health-protective compounds.

According to AICR registered dietitian Karen Collins, the key is to use nuts as a replacement for another food and to eat a sensible portion, usually 1 ounce – or 1/4 cup – per day.

Different nuts have different benefits so feel free to pick and choose – but in moderation. You'll be doing your health good.

Plyometrics – Effective for Weight Loss?

You may have seen advertisements touting the weight-loss effectiveness of home exercise programs that include plyometrics. Just what is it, and is it safe?

Plyometrics is a popular form of exercise that focuses on quick, explosive moves that aim for strength, power, and speed all at once.

Intensity is high, so while Plyometrics burns many calories and can be great for advancing cardiovascular fitness, the pace and form could be unsafe for someone who's out of shape. Moves like jump squats or side-to-side jumps, for example, can lead to significant ankle or knee injuries for someone who is overweight or just getting back into a workout routine.

As with any unsupervised at-home exercise program, if you are unfit or significantly overweight, check with your doctor first to make sure the program is safe, and start with instruction from a certified fitness professional to learn proper technique.

Published on August 28, 2012

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