How to lose weight and reduce your risk of cancer

How to lose weight and reduce your risk of cancer

Getting healthier can seem like a daunting prospect, but it might not be as difficult as you think. To mark World Cancer Day on February 4th, we've teamed up with the World Cancer Research Fund's Dr Rachel Thompson to give you the lowdown on some of the simple choices you can make to reduce your cancer risk.

Did you know that if everyone in the UK was a healthy weight, one in six cases of cancer could be prevented? That's an incredible 25,000 cases every year.

In fact, after not smoking, being a healthy weight is the most important thing you can do to reduce your cancer risk. Plus, it also helps reduce your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

What’s the link between being overweight and cancer?

There’s strong evidence that being overweight increases the risk of developing a number of different types of cancer, including bowel, breast and prostate cancer.

Fortunately, it doesn’t take much to make a big difference. If you’re overweight, losing even a few pounds will have a positive impact.

Our online body mass index (BMI) calculator is a simple way to find out whether you are a healthy weight.

Tips to lose weight

  • Reshape your plate - Feel fuller on fewer calories by swapping high-calorie processed foods for fibre-rich fruit, veg and wholegrains.
  • Keep an eye on portion sizes - Too much of almost any food can cause you to gain weight, so only eat when you’re hungry and go for smaller serving sizes.
  • Read food labels - Labels often feature a handy ‘traffic light’ guide to the food’s fat, sugar and salt content. They can also be used to compare calorie content and to see how many servings are in a pack.

What about doing exercise?

Keeping physically active burns calories, which are stored as fat if they’re not used – that’s one of the reasons why World Cancer Research Fund recommends being active for at least 30 minutes every day. Exercise also has a direct role in preventing some types of cancer.

Look at your day-to-day routine. Make a note of when you fit activity in now and when you could do more, even if it’s just a bit more of what you already do – for example, walking for longer or slightly faster.

Should I aim to sit less?

Sitting less is a great way of getting more active – try cycling, jogging or walking briskly for part of your daily commute instead of using public transport or driving.

Time spent watching TV or being on the computer can also add up. Swap these activities for more active ones or start a new hobby like dancing or swimming.

Article by Rachel Thompson, World Cancer Research Fund’s Head of Research Interpretation. Follow her on Twitter @RachellThompson.

World Cancer Research Fund has lots more great ideas to help you lose weight and get active – remember, it only takes a few small steps to make a huge difference to your health.

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