Cancer prevention guidelines may lower risk of obesity-linked cancers; including esophageal cancer.

January 6, 2015

Low alcohol consumption and a plant-based diet, both healthy habits aligning with current cancer prevention guidelines, are associated with reducing the risk of obesity-related cancers, a New York University study shows. The findings appear in the journal Cancer Causes & Control.

“Our research aims to clarify associations between diet and physical activity in relation to cancer to encourage at-risk individuals to make lifestyle modifications that may reduce their risk of certain cancers,” said Nour Makarem, a nutrition doctoral student at NYU Steinhardt and the study’s lead author.

A third of cancers are estimated to be related to excess body fat, and are therefore considered preventable through lifestyle changes. Obesity-related cancers include cancers of the gastrointestinal tract, reproductive organs, urinary tract, blood, bone, spleen, and thyroid.

Obesity is considered a risk factor for esophageal cancer, the fastest growing cancer in the United States, according to the National Cancer Institute.  Other risk factors for esophageal cancer include tobacco use, poor nutrition, excessive alcohol use and Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (chronic acid reflux, heartburn being the most common symptom.)

In 1997, the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research released cancer prevention guidelines advising on weight management, diet, and physical activity. These guidelines, updated in 2007, provide an integrated approach for establishing healthy habits that reduce cancer incidence.

In their study, Makarem and her colleagues sought to evaluate whether healthy behaviors aligning with the diet and physical activity cancer prevention guidelines are in fact associated with reduced risk for obesity-related cancers and the most common site-specific cancers (breast, prostate, and colorectal cancers).

The researchers analyzed medical and dietary data for 2,983 men and women who were part of the Framingham Heart Study, a 60-year population study tracking factors related to cardiovascular disease as well as cancer. Focusing on data from 1991 through 2008, they identified 480 obesity-related cancers among the participants.

In order to calculate the relationship between the cancer prevention recommendations and cancer incidence, the researchers created a seven-point score based on the recommendations for body fat, physical activity, foods that promote weight gain, plant foods, animal foods, alcohol consumption, and food preparation and processing.

After adjusting for other factors that could contribute to cancer risk, including age, smoking, and pre-existing conditions, the researchers found that the overall score, as a proxy for overall concordance to the guidelines, was not associated with obesity-related cancer risk. However, when score components were evaluated separately, two different measures emerged as strong predictors of cancer risk.

In the current study, adherence to alcohol recommendations – limiting alcoholic drinks to two for men and one for women a day – was protective against obesity-related cancers combined and against breast, prostate, and colorectal cancers. In addition, among participants who consume starchy vegetables, eating sufficient non-starchy plant foods (fruits, vegetables, and legumes) was associated with a lower risk of colorectal cancer.

“Based on the study’s results, dietary advice on preventing cancer should emphasize the importance of eating a plant-based diet and restricting alcohol consumption,” said Niyati Parekh, associate professor of nutrition and public health at NYU Steinhardt and the study’s senior author.


This post is based on information provided by New York University.


New Year Resolutions Could Lower Esophageal Cancer Risk

December 31, 2014

It is officially the New Year and for many, that also means setting New Year resolutions.   According to Reuters, “losing weight and getting fit and healthy are among the top five resolutions [made] every year.”


Unfortunately, many of these goals fade away and are never fulfilled.   In  fact, forty-five percent of Americans make New Year resolutions each year, but only eight percent succeed, according to a University of Scranton study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology.  While the odds are very much against the success of New Year resolutions, these goals are extremely important to our health, especially when it comes to esophageal cancer prevention.

Esophageal cancer is the fastest growing cancer in the United States, according to the National Cancer Institute.  It has increased over 600% in the past decades and shows no signs of slowing down.  As one of the deadliest cancers, esophageal cancer has an extremely poor 5-year survival rate of only 17.5%.

Some of the major risk factors associated with esophageal cancer are chronic heartburn (acid reflux), obesity, smoking and poor nutrition.

Losing weight, eating healthier, exercising and quitting tobacco use are all ways to help lower the risk of esophageal cancer, in addition to improving other aspects of overall health.

Below are five articles that we’ve chosen from throughout the web to help you create and, more importantly, stick to resolutions to improve your health.  Whether you create these goals today, tomorrow or well after the New Year, we support and encourage you to improve your health!

What is on your New Year resolution list?  Share them with us on Facebook!



Resources for New Year Resolution Success:

New Year’s resolutions- more procrastination than motivation, Reuters  

Tips for making GERD diet and lifestyle changes that stick, RefluxMD

The Key To Setting Achievable Goals, Huffington Post

11 Simple Health Habits Worth Adopting Into Your Life, Cleveland Clinic

Why your healthier lifestyle should start today, Medical Daily