Did you know that overweight and obese Australians face up to a 42% increased risk of kidney cancer?
Furthermore, the latest research shows that almost 63% of Australian adults are overweight and for every 5 kg increase the risk for postmenopausal ovarian cancer increased by 13%, breast cancer increased by 11% and endometrial cancer increased by 9%.
Australians may be at risk of a kidney cancer epidemic, according to Dr. Alschuler, if we do not control our burgeoning waist lines. Diet and lifestyle changes can impact our health at a cellular level and improve our risk for cancer significantly, says Dr. Alschuler.
Dr. Alschuler is the author of several scientific papers and books including The Definitive Guide to Cancer. She is currently in Australia as a keynote speaker for the Australasian Integrative Medicine Association Conference (https://www.aima.net.au/ ) as well as a series of workshops where she is presenting to medical practitioners around the country regarding the new cancer research and the role of integrative medicine in battling the disease.
For more information visit: www.bioceuticals.com.au
Question: What are your top tips for maintaining a healthy weight?
Dr. Lise Alschuler: I consider there to be 3 important considerations to support healthy weight. The first is to be active. Exercise and avoidance of being sedentary (both are necessary) are critical to stimulating metabolism (calorie burn), reducing the likelihood of insulin resistance (often a component of weight gain), and elevating mood (an important part of health and healthy weight). The second is to reduce overall calorie consumption. We tend to overeat to the point of feeling full and uncomfortable after meals. When was the last time that you experienced true hunger? We often eat so much and so often, we are never hungry. Finally, reducing processed, packaged foods is critical. High fructose corn syrup and other food additives wreak havoc on our metabolism and directly contribute to weight gain. Processed foods also tend to be high in refined salt also linked with excess weight.
Question: Why is it important that we maintain a healthy weight?
Dr. Lise Alschuler: A healthy weight is associated with a lower risk of premature death from any cause and specifically lowers the risk of chronic disease.
Question: What risks are associated with carrying too much weight?
Dr. Lise Alschuler: Excess weight as fat, especially when that weight is associated with a condition called insulin resistance, increases chronic inflammation in the body. This, in turn, can lead to the development of cancer, heart disease, dementia, diabetes, and other chronic illnesses. Insulin resistance can develop with excessive simple refined carbohydrate consumption, inactivity, prolonged stress and sleep insufficiency. Insulin resistance is a process in which cells become resistant to insulin. Insulin is a chaperone for bringing sugar (glucose) into cells in order to fuel cellular processes. In a state of insulin resistance, cells lack sufficient energy and their function declines. In addition, the excess glucose circulates in the blood. This circulating glucose is very damaging to vessels and other tissues in the body, beginning the process of inflammation and chronic disease.
Question: How are cancer and obesity related?
Dr. Lise Alschuler: One of the connection points is through insulin resistance. In addition to the excessive circulating glucose in a state of insulin resistance, there is also excessive insulin in the blood. Cancer cells have defects in how they make energy and are, therefore, very hungry for fuel. In order to capture as much glucose as possible, they cover their cell surfaces with insulin receptors given that insulin is necessary to admit glucose into the cell. Thus, in a state of insulin resistance, the excess circulating insulin extensively binds to the insulin receptors on malignant cells. When insulin binds to these receptors, in addition to bringing glucose into the cell, a message to divide is sent from the insulin receptor to the cell's nucleus. In this way, insulin acts as a growth factor for cancer. Thus, insulin resistance, often seen in people with excessive body fat, may be the link between obesity and cancer. Obesity is now considered responsible for one in five new diagnoses of cancer.
Question: How do we know what our healthy weight is?
Dr. Lise Alschuler: There are a variety of ways to assess this. The most common method is to calculate Body Mass Index (BMI) which can be done with one's weight and height. There are many BMI calculators available online. More accurate assessment by trained practitioners will use various instruments to noninvasively determine one's percentage body fat.
Question: As a breast cancer survivor, can you share your holistic health tips?
Dr. Lise Alschuler: As a breast cancer survivor, my entire perspective on life has shifted. Facing a life-threatening disease was, for me, a clarifying moment. Since my diagnosis, I live my life with much greater reverence. I value each day, even each breath, as a remarkable gift. I value others and strive to be of service, to enjoy life and to be mindful of my decisions. Of course, I also continue to practice a healthy lifestyle so that I can be, not just a survivor, but a thriver.
Question: How important is exercise to maintaining a healthy weight?
Dr. Lise Alschuler: Exercise is critical to healthy weight maintenance. Our bodies are meant to move. At minimum, 30 minutes of moderately intense exercise daily (equivalent to brisk walking) at least 5 days per week is associated with a significant reduction in premature death from any cause and death from many cancers. And, it is important to continually build our fitness. Exercise should always be fun, but never easy. As important as regular exercise is the need to avoid being sedentary. That means that we must interrupt prolonged periods of inactivity (usually sitting) by bouts of activity. I suggest at least 2 minutes of continuous activity that involves our big muscles (legs, stomach or back) at least every 90 minutes.
Question: Is diet more important than exercise for weight?
Dr. Lise Alschuler: Diet is critical to health weight, but so is exercise. I think that it is difficult to maintain health – and a healthy weight - with diet or exercise alone. The combination is where the magic is.
Interview by Brooke Hunter