Don’t have time to read? Here’s a quick summary:
- Being thin isn’t necessarily the same as being healthy.
- It’s known that being overweight increases your risk of many cancers.
- But when researchers look at obesity related cancer risk in thin, postmenopausal women, they found an increased risk in those who ate more “energy dense” foods rather than “nutrient dense” foods.
- Energy dense foods are those that have a lot of calories, but not a lot of nutrients (i.e. “junk foods.”)
- Nutrient rich dense foods are generally lower in calories and rich in nutrients (especially vegetables and fruits.)
- Many of these nutrient dense foods are also loaded with anticancer phytochemicals.
- In many ways, healthy foods give you a “daily dose” of food based medicine to help maintain your health.
Being thinner is generally better when it comes to overall health. This also applies to preventing cancer.
But I’ve always emphasized the importance of overall health, not just being thin.
Because on one hand, you can be thin and unhealthy… or can also be a bit overweight and healthy.
And much of this has to do with your diet….
Well, new research is confirming this… especially in relation to cancer.
Researchers at the University of Arizona have been looking into obesity related cancers… specifically in postmenopausal women.
Being overweight in general can increase your risk of a variety of cancers including colon, breast, endometrial, kidney, and esophageal cancers .
And because of all the previous research in this area, they thought that women with normal weight would have a lowered risk of obesity related cancer.
But what they found was actually a surprise to them…
Energy Dense Vs. Nutrient Dense
These researchers found that the quality of women’s diets also played an important role in their cancer risk.
In this case the, “quality” of their diets refers to the intake of nutrient dense foods, vs energy dense foods.
Foods like pizza and desserts for example, are energy dense. They are loaded with calories but not so much in terms of nutrients.
Things like fruits and vegetables are more nutrient dense. They don’t give you as much calories, but contain a lot more nutrients.
Even Thinner Women Can Have Increased Risk Of Cancer
So what this study found was that women who ate more energy dense diets had a 10% higher risk of obesity related cancers… even if their body weight was normal .
When you think about it, this makes only sense considering all of the anticancer nutrients that come from nutrient rich foods.
Fruits and vegetables provide our bodies with a large vary of phytochemical with a variety of anticancer effects.
These anticancer effects include:
- Blocking tumor blood vessel formation
- Regulating genes involved in cancer
- Reducing cancer promoting inflammation
- Regulating cellular metabolisms.
- Preventing oxidative damage
Energy dense foods on the other tend to have pro cancer effects… especially when you’re talking about processed foods. These effects include:
- Dysregulation of blood sugar and insulin
- Promoting inflammation
- Promoting oxidative damage
- Directly promoting cancer with industrial food additives
Healthy Foods Are Like Daily Medicine
So as you can see, there’s a huge difference between an energy rich junk food diet, and a nutrient rich diet that’s full of anti-cancer compounds.
The most important thing is to realize that your food is like medicine in many ways.
Every time you eat healthy foods, it’s like taking a small dose of medicine to regulate your gene expressions, control inflammation, and maybe even block blood vessels to any pre-cancer micro tumors that may have developed in your body.
And if healthy foods are like medicines that help to maintain your health… unhealthy foods are more like drugs. They may feel good when you are taking them, but they often lead to problems in the future.
Fortunately, you can make healthy foods taste good. And this is important because food is meant to be enjoyed.
Finding the balance between tasty and healthy is one of the keys to a healthy diet.
So remember, just because you’re thin doesn’t mean you can get away with eating unhealthy foods all the time. Start adding more healthy foods to your life. Your body will thank you for it later. 🙂
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- Being overweight in general can increase your risk of a variety of cancers including colon, breast, endometrial, kidney, and esophageal cancers.
- Association between Dietary Energy Density and Obesity-Associated Cancer: Results from the Women’s Health Initiative
- Dietary emulsifier-induced low-grade inflammation promotes colon carcinogenesis
Gene Wei is a Board Certified Doctor of Oriental Medicine in the state of Florida, and the founder of AntiCancer360. He’s also a graduate of the University of California Los Angeles, and East West College of Natural Medicine.
His practice is focused on integrative and natural anticancer strategies. Over the years, he’s helped many people overcome difficult cancers… including some cases of “terminal cancer” which were able to be reversed with an “Aggressive Integrative Approach.”