Our obesity epidemic is about to become a cancer crisis

I know I talk about weight management a lot. But like I’ve said here before, my job just isn’t to help you look better in a tight pair of jeans.

Not that there’s anything wrong with having that goal. I simply mean that my priorities as a “diet doctor” lie elsewhere. And my goal, as always, is to help you lead a better, healthier, and longer life.

And it just so happens that obesity stands in the way of all three. And while some people stand behind the notion that you can have “health at any size,” the fact is that excess weight is lethal, any way you slice it. 

An independent cause of cancer

Here’s the latest research for you to chew on: A new study suggests that too many extra pounds are the culprit behind four percent of all cancer cases across the globe. And almost twice as many cases in some developing and higher-income Western countries.

This isn’t surprising, when you consider the fact that the global overweight and obese population has skyrocketed since the 70s. And as recently as 2016, some 40 percent of all adults — and nearly one in five kids — were considered overweight.

The reason? Because, simply put, people are eating more and moving less.  

As I’ve mentioned before — and will continue to mention until something finally changes — obesity has clear, direct, and proven links to a higher risk of at least 13 different cancers (that we currently know of).

Among them are cancers of the breast, colon and rectum, uterus, esophagus, gallbladder, kidney, liver, ovary, pancreas, stomach, thyroid, brain and spinal cord, and blood cells. (According to some research, prostate, mouth, and throat cancers also belong on the list.)

I don’t know about you. But if you ask me, this is frightening. We’ve eaten ourselves into a diabetes epidemic already. Now, it appears as though we’re eating our way into a cancer boom as well.

And yet, the powers-that-be — whether they’re physicians or policy-makers — don’t seem compelled to do a darn thing about it.

It’s time for doctors to face the facts

Has your doctor discussed this lethal connection with you? Or recommended that you maintain a healthy weight so you don’t get cancer?

If so, consider yourself an outlier. We all know to not smoke or drink too much. But beyond that, American medicine seems to think there’s nothing else you can do to dodge a cancer diagnosis.

The bottom line is that things have to change, or else, more and more people are going to needlessly have their lives cut short.

First, we need effective dietary recommendations — that is, not guidelines issued from the food industry’s pockets, but recommendations backed by real, unbiased science. They should focus on boosting the quality of dietary fat, and slashing the consumption of sugar.  

In the same vein, it’s time we seriously talked about taxing sugar-sweetened drinks (just as we’ve done with cigarettes and alcohol). And subsidizing organic farmers, instead of cash crops like soy and corn, so that real food is accessible to all — not just those who can afford paying extra for better quality food. 

We should also consider imposing legal limits on junk food portion sizes. (Something that NYC has already tried — and failed to do, thanks to industry lawyers.)

As for nutritional education, where do I even start? I mean, I still see patients who are using “low-fat” products, thinking eggs are bad for them, and thinking fat of any kind will kill them.

The message is wrong and it needs to change — fast.

And of course, people need to know how important it is to move more.  I live in New York City, where it’s impossible not to take 10,000 steps per day.

So visit your local state parks or nearby recreation centers. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park your car in a spot away from the entrance. Try a new exercise class. Walk to the store. Do anything to get up and moving. It truly starts with doing the smallest of things every day.

Yes, it’s our responsibility to do these things for ourselves. But this is a public health issue. And everyone with the power to do so needs to be working to raise awareness and greasing the wheels of change.

Because we’re not just talking about dress sizes anymore. We’re talking about diabetes. We’re talking about heart disease. And we’re talking about cancer.Until next time, Dr. Fred

P.S. In my Essential Protocol to a Cancer-Free Future, I cover a wealth of weight loss, dietary, lifestyle, and supplement guidelines to help you stop cancer dead in its tracks. To learn about my simple, science-based strategies to fortify your cellular defenses, click here, or sign up today.