If you are struggling with motivation to exercise, how about the fact that losing fat (or just exercising more and eating a healthier diet without losing any fat) leads to an improvement in your cancer risk. The charity Cancer Research UK claims there are 13 types of cancer that can be caused by being overweight.
The charity says that research has shown that many types of cancer are more common in people who are overweight or obese, including cancers of the breast (in women after the menopause), bowel, womb, oesophageal (food pipe), pancreatic, kidney, liver, upper stomach, gallbladder, ovarian, thyroid, myeloma (a type of blood cancer), and meningioma (a type of brain tumour).
This list includes 2 of the most common types of cancer – breast and bowel cancers – and 3 of the hardest to treat – pancreatic, oesophageal and gallbladder cancers.
When too much fat is carried around the belly, it can do even more damage. So-called ‘apple’ shapes are linked to bowel, kidney, oesophageal, pancreatic, and breast cancers.
How do you know if you are overweight?
Researchers at the Mayo Clinic (US) discovered from extensive studies that waist size can be a significant predictor of future disease, even among people with a healthy BMI. They also found that life expectancy decreased by 3 – 5 years respectively among men and women with the largest waist circumference.
What waist size should I aim for?
Waist circumference is a substitute technique for scientific assessments that use MRI to depict internal tissue composition. For women, a measurement of 88cm and above, and for men of 102cm and above is associated with high cardio-metabolic risk. Aiming for less than these figures would also benefit cancer risk.
For a low risk profile, women would aim for less than 82cm, and men less than 94cm (WHO).
Another respected measure of overweight is the waist-to-hip ratio. To measure yours, measure your waist at its narrowest part, then measure your hips at the widest part (usually at the greatest protuberance of the buttocks). Then divide the waist measurement by the hip measurement. The WHO defines ratios of > 9 in men and > 8.5 in women as being decisive benchmarks for metabolic syndrome.
Take today as your benchmark, and ladies, if your waist mark is >88cm, and gents >102cm, see if you can make two or three small lifestyle changes then remeasure in exactly one month’s time. Small, sustainable decreases should be the aim.