rectal cancer

  1. Obesity is the number two cause of cancer

    The other big cause of cancer

    Everyone knows smoking is the single biggest cancer risk factor. But most people can't name number two on the list, despite the fact that this cancer cause is far more common than cigarettes.

    It's obesity -- and a new report out of the UK blames it for 17,000 cases of cancer each year in that country alone.

    That's a lot of cancer... but that's small potatoes compared to the numbers here in the United States, where obesity is responsible for nearly 100,000 new cases of cancer every single year.

    And while smoking has been linked to at least 14 types of cancer, obesity is no slouch in this department either: Excess weight is a major risk factor for cancers of the esophagus, pancreas, colon, rectum, breast (especially after menopause), kidney, thyroid, and gallbladder.

    It's also a risk factor for endometrial cancer, which is cancer in the lining of the uterus.

    Obesity leads to excess insulin and insulin growth factor-1, which is why people who gain weight are at risk for diabetes. But excess insulin and IGF-1 can also promote or even cause cancer.

    Fat cells can also produce hormones that stimulate the growth of other cells -- including tumor cells.

    And of course obesity can stimulate the production of estrogen, and excess estrogen can lead to certain types of breast cancer.

    Once you have the disease, obesity can even make it harder to treat -- especially those breast cancers, since the drugs for the condition work by attempting to block the estrogen that's feeding the tumor.

    If your estrogen levels are higher in the first place thanks to excess weight, those drugs have a hard time keeping up. One new study finds that obese breast cancer patients have double the levels of estrogen of normal-weight patients after taking those meds.

    Not every cancer risk factor is within your control, with plenty of cases caused by some combination of bad genes and worse luck. But the new numbers out of the U.K. find that smoking, obesity, and other lifestyle factors are responsible for up to 40 percent of all cancers.

    That means 40 percent of all cancers never had to happen.

    We've done a great job educating the public about the dangers of smoking, to the point where even people who haven't quit at least know they should.

    Now, it's time to do the same for obesity.

    Speaking of cancer, I've got an update on a possible cause many people don't know about... yet.

    Keep reading!

  2. Take a stand against sitting

    Too much time on your rear could put your bottom at risk and your life on the line: A new study finds that people who work sedentary jobs have a dramatically higher risk of colorectal cancers.

    Researchers compared work history, lifestyle factors and levels of physical activity of 918 colon cancer patients to
    1,021 people who didn't have the disease, and ranked their jobs based on the levels of physical activity throughout  the day.

    They found that those who spent a decade or more doing work that required little to no movement had more than twice the risk of colon cancer than those who never held a sedentary job.

    Non-movers were also 44 percent more likely to get rectal cancer, according to the study in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

    That's bad enough… but the news gets even worse for office workers who think time on a treadmill will keep them a step ahead of disease: Daily exercise did nothing to reverse that risk.

    The one "caveat" on the study, if you can call it that, is that sitting was linked only to cancers of the rectum and distal colon – not the proximal colon.

    But really, how much does that distinction matter to someone who's just been told they have cancer… and the office job they've held for the past decade or so could be the reason?

    And even if you escape those cancers, a low-movement job could still put you at risk for just about everything else.

    One study earlier this year found that sedentary jobs can be as unhealthy as smoking, causing a dramatic rise in the odds of heart disease, obesity, diabetes and an early death.

    Another study, published last year but getting some recent attention thanks to prominent play on CNN, found that women who sat for more than six hours a day were 37 percent more likely to die during the 14-year study period than women who sat for less than three hours a day.

    For men, that boost in risk was 20 percent, according to the study in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

    Again, regular exercise didn't help – a flurry of activity for 20 or 30 minutes in the evening won't make up for being parked on your butt all day and lying on your back all night.

    If you can't change jobs, change habits: If your career keeps you in a seat, find creative ways to get up and get moving as much as you can.

    Your butt is on the line here… and so's your life.

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