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Body fat has strong link to cancer
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Be as lean as possible within the normal range of bodyweight to prevent cancer - that's the No 1 recommendation in a landmark report released in Beijing yesterday.

Appropriate food, right nutrition and physical activity can help people stay away from cancers, said the report compiled by the World Cancer Research Fund a decade after its first report on food, nutrition and the prevention of cancer.

The report highlights for the first time the strong association between body fat and cancer.

"For quite some time, the association has not been appreciated. It should be one of the most significant findings of the report," Jim Mann, well-known nutritionist and professor at the Department of Human  with University of Otago in New Zealand, said at the launch ceremony.

Some of the most common cancers worldwide, including cancers of the pancreas, colorectum, postmenopausal breast and endometrium, are very strongly associated with body fat, including both total body fat and abdomen fat.

For every 2.5 cm increase in the waistline, there can be an 8 percent increase in the risk of colorectal cancer risk, Mann said, citing a study.

According to the report, sedentary lifestyles, energy-dense foods, sugary drinks, fast food and television viewing increase the risk of body fat.

Among the report's recommendations are:

at least 30 minutes of physical activity daily;

limiting consumption of energy-dense foods and sugary drinks;

eating mostly food of plant origin;

limiting intake of red meat and avoiding processed meat and alcoholic drinks;

limiting consumption of salt and dietary supplements not recommended for cancer prevention.

"The recommendations made in the report are not just particular to cancer, but also have general health values," said Professor Mark L Wahlqvist, president of the International Union of Nutritional Sciences.

Cancer has become the No. 2 killer in China after chronic heart diseases.

"All the recommendations apply completely to Chinese people, who are increasingly adopting Westernized living styles," said Chen Junshi, an expert on nutrition and chronic diseases at the Institute of Nutrition and Food Safety of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The latest national survey on nutrition and health, in 2002, showed that Chinese are eating less grain, and have increased consumption of meat, salt, alcohol and tobacco.

(China Daily November 1, 2007)

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