body mass index

  1. Lose weight, lower your cancer risk

    Most folks know that being overweight isn't healthy, and being obese is even worse.

    But not everyone realizes just how deep those problems can run, going well beyond the obvious conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.

    For women, new research shows that obesity is a risk factor for endometrial cancer, which occurs in the innermost lining of the uterus.

    While past studies have found a correlation between weight and this type of cancer in pre-menopausal and postmenopausal women, the latest study is the first to find a risk in younger women, too – especially those who experienced early menopause.

    The study, published in the July issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology, found a dramatic increase in the risk of endometrial cancer in women with a body-mass index greater than 25.

    A BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 is generally considered normal. A BMI of 25-29.9 is overweight, while 30 or greater is considered obese.

    The most frightening statistic concerned women with a BMI greater than 35 who were under 45 years old at the time of their last period. The researchers found that they were 22 times more likely to develop endometrial cancer than women with healthy weight levels.

    That's not just a jump in risk – that's a launch into the atmosphere. And all for something that is entirely within your control, no matter what your gender: weight.

    The risk extends to other groups of overweight women, too.

    Women with a BMI greater than 25 who had their last menstrual cycle before the age of 45 had a six-fold increase in the risk for endometrial cancer, while women who were older than 45 at the time of their last period and had a BMI greater than 35 were 3.7 times more likely to get endometrial cancer.

    In every case, those extra pounds seem to play a major role in the risk for this cancer. Researchers believe that extra weight could be creating a hormonal imbalance, which makes sense to me. Obesity can play havoc with your body on so many levels, and your hormones are one area that can suffer.

    The best thing you can do for yourself — for so many reasons — is to lose that weight. I know it's not easy, and it doesn't help when nearly every day of your life you're being given bad advice about eating.

    The low-fat Torture Chamber Diet being forced down everyone's throat is a long-term recipe for disease and obesity. It's literally killing us and making us sick in so many ways – this is just one of them.

    So if you're carrying around a few extra pounds, do something about it now – while you still can – regardless of your gender.

    That means avoiding the carbs and processed foods that have become a staple of 21st century American life. It also means getting some steady exercise. You don't have to join a health club, just make sure you get some steady movement in your life and work up a sweat a few times a week doing something you enjoy.

    While it may be tricky at first, I think you'll find it easier once you start seeing how quickly the weight comes off, and how much better you feel when it does.

  2. Watch those pregnancy pounds

    You may recall that not long ago, I told you about an alarming study that showed that even though women may live longer than men, they're not necessarily living better.

    That study blamed weight gained during pregnancy, but never lost, for at least part of the reason women suffer from obesity-related health problems later in life.

    Now we have a new set of guidelines for women when it comes to weight gain during pregnancy – necessary these days because many women are already overweight by the time they conceive, thanks to years of poor dieting advice from the mainstream.

    The Institute of Medicine says that women who are at their ideal weight, with a body mass index between 18.5 and 24.9, can safely gain between 25 and 35 pounds during pregnancy.

    Women with a pre-pregnancy BMI between 25 and 29.9 should gain 15 to 25 pounds during pregnancy, while women with a pre-pregnancy BMI of 30 or higher should gain between 11 and 20 pounds.

    The Institute also suggests that women try to plan ahead and get to a healthy weight before they conceive, and that makes a lot of sense to me. Women who are healthy before their pregnancy are at less of a risk for diabetes, blood pressure problems, premature births and even C-section deliveries.

    That means getting off what I call the low-fat, high-carb Torture Chamber Diet now, by eating better and getting a little more exercise. If you or your doctor want to know more about the science behind exiting the torture chamber diet, order my book, The Body Heals, 2nd Edition at

    And while you should keep these guidelines in mind when you do conceive, you shouldn't be dieting during your pregnancy – and you definitely shouldn't be trying to lose weight.  Save that for after your bundle of joy arrives.

    Now, most women will be tempted to get back into that low-fat Torture Chamber after the baby is born. But that's exactly what you shouldn't do.

    Both you (and, if you're nursing, your baby) need healthy fats in your diet. What you really need to avoid are those carbs – especially sugars and sodium-laden processed foods.

    I know most families rely even more on packaged meals after the baby is born – life can be pretty hectic. But while meals that come in a can, box or freezer bag may be convenient, they're not what the doctor ordered.

    Some of the worst of them are the so-called healthy choices being offered out of the freezer. Not only are many of them packed with sodium and carbs, they also offer far fewer of the essential nutrients and minerals you'd get from the equivalent fresh foods.

    Folks like to give gifts when a baby is born. Maybe one of those gifts should be a good cookbook that shows how to quickly prepare simple and delicious meals using natural foods. Natural foods (before food is processed) still contain their vitamin and mineral content. What more could mommy and the new baby need?

    That's a gift that would last a lot longer than one more baby blanket, and would help the whole family – not just the new mommy.

    Think about that next time you're shopping for a mom-to-be.

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