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Obesity, Inactivity Could Outpace Smoking in Cancer Death Risk

In a disturbing news release, USA Today reports that, as the rate of smoking declines, obesity and inactivity may soon become the leading cause of cancer. In fact, 13 types of cancer are linked to excess body weight. The numbers are exacerbated by income levels, researchers said, as lower income people are more likely to be overweight and smoke.

The link between obesity and cancer has been long established, with at least a half million cancers a year occurring worldwide because of obesity. Nearly 30 percent of the global population is overweight or obese, and in developed countries, 8 percent of all cancers in women and 3 percent in men are attributable to obesity — with women being twice as likely to develop obesity-related cancer.

What’s more, the longer you’re overweight, the greater your risk grows. However, there are lifestyle strategies that can slash your risk of cancer, including nutritional ketosis (a diet high in healthy fat, low in net carbs), peak fasting and exercise — all of which boost your mitochondrial health.

For example, swapping processed foods for real, minimally processed foods will not only aid weight loss efforts, but will also supply your body with nutrients it needs to optimize immune function and ward off disease. The same can be said for intermittent fasting. By paying careful attention to the TIMING of your meals, you can improve your weight and cut your risk of serious diseases like cancer.

When you look at strategies that help keep you healthy, one of the common denominators running through all of them is that they promote mitochondrial function, which brings up the metabolic theory of cancer, something I discuss in my new book, “Fat for Fuel.”

To optimize your mitochondrial function through diet, you need to eat so that your body is able to burn fat as its primary fuel rather than sugars. Ketogenic diets are very effective for this, as is fasting. As a general rule, you'll want to reduce your net carbs to 20 to 50 grams a day or less, and restrict protein to 1 gram per kilogram of lean body mass. To make sure you're actually meeting your nutritional requirements and maintaining the ideal nutrient ratios, a nutrient tracker can be an invaluable tool.
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