Drop That Cookie: Sweet, Starchy Foods May Be Linked to Uterus Cancer

obese fat woman

The Bottom Line: Sweet, starchy foods like sugar and white bread probably are linked to endometrial cancer, while coffee probably protects against it, researchers reported on this week. But obesity is probably the #1 causative agent. These are the conclusions of the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) and the World Cancer Research Fund International.

The Study: The two organizations assigned an international panel of experts to review the evidence in what’s called a meta-analysis (study of studies) for what might cause various cancers. The group, which tends to focus on the links between diet, exercise and cancer, chose endometrial (uterus) cancer for the latest review.

My Take: Women who are obese have two to three times the rate of endometrial cancer. People who are more active regularly tend to have a decreased rate of endometrial cancer. the team also found some surprising findings – the degree to which coffee can protect against the cancer, and the rates at which sugary, starchy foods increase it. So, coffee in moderation is probably not a bad idea. And watch the weight!

One of the authors is spot on when she observes: “The bottom line is you want to eat whole grains instead of refined grains and sugary foods,” She adds “all the findings are really pointing to the same thing – maintaining better glucose metabolism and maintaining a healthy body weight,” she added. “That means a healthy diet and regular exercise.” That these also help reduce the risk of many, many cancers is an added bonus. Enjoy that brisk walk today!

Reference: http://www.aicr.org/assets/docs/pdf/reports/2013-cup-endometrial-cancer.pdf

The small print: The material presented herein is informational only, and is not designed to provide specific guidance for an individual. Please check with a valued health care provider with any questions or concerns. As for me, I am a Harvard- , Yale- and UPenn-educated radiation oncologist, and I practice in the Seattle, WA (USA) area. I feel genuinely privileged to be able to share with you. If you enjoyed today’s offering, please consider clicking the follow button at the bottom of this page.

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understandcancerin60minutes

Harvard AB Yale MD UPenn Radiation Oncology Radiation Oncologist, Seattle area

2 thoughts on “Drop That Cookie: Sweet, Starchy Foods May Be Linked to Uterus Cancer”

  1. Sorry to hear it. And yes, these are risk factors, but most of the time, I don’t have a clue why an individual got a cancer. The Mayo Clinic adds a bunch of other risk factors. I’m sure it is frustrating to not know why you got it… Glad you appear to be okay!

    Factors that increase the risk of endometrial cancer include:

    Changes in the balance of female hormones in the body. Your ovaries make two main female hormones — estrogen and progesterone. Fluctuations in the balance of these hormones cause changes in your endometrium.

    A disease or condition that increases the amount of estrogen, but not the level of progesterone, in your body can increase your risk of endometrial cancer. Examples include irregular ovulation patterns, such as can occur in women with polycystic ovary syndrome, obesity and diabetes. Taking hormones after menopause that contain estrogen but not progesterone increases the risk of endometrial cancer.

    A rare type of ovarian tumor that secretes estrogen also can increase the risk of endometrial cancer.

    More years of menstruation. Starting menstruation at an early age — before age 12 — or beginning menopause later increases the risk of endometrial cancer. The more periods you’ve had, the more exposure your endometrium has had to estrogen.
    Never having been pregnant. Women who have never been pregnant have a higher risk of endometrial cancer than do women who have had at least one pregnancy.
    Older age. As you get older, your risk of endometrial cancer increases. The majority of endometrial cancer occurs in older women who have undergone menopause.
    Obesity. Being obese increases your risk of endometrial cancer. This may occur because excess body fat alters your body’s balance of hormones.
    Hormone therapy for breast cancer. Women with breast cancer who take the hormone therapy drug tamoxifen have an increased risk of developing endometrial cancer. If you’re taking tamoxifen, discuss this risk with your doctor. For most women, the benefits of tamoxifen outweigh the small risk of endometrial cancer.
    An inherited colon cancer syndrome. Hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC) is a syndrome that increases the risk of colon cancer and other cancers, including endometrial cancer. HNPCC occurs because of a gene mutation passed from parents to children. If a family member has been diagnosed with HNPCC, discuss your risk of the genetic syndrome with your doctor. If you’ve been diagnosed with HNPCC, ask your doctor what cancer screening tests you should undergo.

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