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INTERESTING STUFF – 7 October 2017

Cancer Linked to Obesity

During a medical checkup while I was recovering from the Whipple surgery for pancreatic cancer, one of the physicians told me that even though I was among the 10 percent who are eligible for that procedure, they probably would not have done it due to my age, 76, if I had not been as healthy and in as good physical condition as I was.

Based on that information, four years earlier – when I was 72 - they would have rejected me.

Back then I weighed more than 160 pounds (I am 5' 2” tall), couldn't walk up one flight of stairs carrying the groceries without stopping halfway to rest and got no more exercise than trying to climb those stairs or running the vacuum cleaner once a week.

When I realized, after being laid off from work in 2004 that it was unlikely I would be hired again, I sold my home in New York City and moved to Maine. What I also did was allow myself to eat all the things I'd kept to a minimum all my life to help maintain a reasonable weight – wonderful things like ice cream and cheese.

My weight crept up and up and up.

By late 2012, it was sometimes difficult to breathe even when walking on flat ground and I always avoided hills, even small ones. That's when I realized I had to get healthy or become incapacitated in some manner.

I devised an eating regimen that would keep me healthy while losing weight at a reasonable rate – about four to five pounds a month - and a daily exercise routine that combined old-fashioned calisthenics, some ballet exercises, resistance and weight training, flexibility work and tai chi.

A year later I was down to a consistent 120-125 pounds. I could walk for miles, up hill and dale and stairs and my exercise routine kept me strong.

There is a just-released study titled “Vital Signs” from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in collaboration with the National Cancer Institute showing an association between obesity and 13 kinds of cancer:

”As many as 40 percent of all cancers are related to obesity, according to the new research, which suggests that these cancers would be preventable if weight was kept under control...” reports Medical News Today.

“The findings are particularly important given the alarming statistics on obesity in the United States. Between 2013 and 2014, the CDC note, as many as 2 in 3 adults were deemed overweight or obese.”

Here are the 13 cancers:


According to The Guardian, deputy director of the CDC, Anne Schuchat, said their research

“'...found an increase in a number of types of cancers associated with obesity and overweight, at a period when the prevalence of obesity and overweight has increased substantially in the middle ages...The prevalence of obesity and overweight is starting to show up in our cancer statistics.'

“...In 2014,” continues The Guardian, “roughly 630,000 people in the US were diagnosed with overweight- or obesity-linked cancer. Two-thirds of those cases were in Boomer-generation adults, between 50 and 74.”

Having lost weight four years earlier didn't seem to affect my getting pancreatic cancer but all cancers are mysterious things. Some researchers I've read have talked about cancer cells living benignly in our bodies for many years, if not all our lives, and then something triggers them to go wild. Maybe, sometimes, obesity? No one knows. Yet.

This seems to be a particularly timely study for old people because so many of us put on excess weight as we grow older.

There are many more details of the study at those two links above, at the Centers of Disease Control and elsewhere around the web.


When I had lung cancer I was among the 25% elible for surgery. The surgeon could see I am not overweight but he grilled me anyway about diabetes, heart issues, exercise, smoking, drinking, etc and decided he could go ahead. Taking care of yourself doesn't necessarily keep you from getting cancer, but it makes it more likely you will survive. I am alive and well five years later.

I don't want to sound cloying, but you are an inspiration on many levels! To think I found your blog because I was trying to find info regarding ongoing toots issuing from my backside, which I now mostly ignore or make light of. 😄
Well, now I'm 72, 5' 3", 180+ pounds, and stiff and sore. I've just restarted cycling, walking and yoga. Gentle eating is next. 150 lbs. here I come!

Please share your eating regime where you lost weight and ate healthy. Thanks.

Have you posted about your eating plan and weight loss, Ronni?

A lifetime of bad food choices is really weighing me down.

So thankful I am not overweight, I am the other way at 105 lbs
trying to push food. I have used very little insurance and now need more medical help and difficult to put through . Thought of changing plans but just told with severe arthritis
and inflammatory colitus I probably could not change.
Life at 82 - love my country home with a little help and do not want to sell everything
and go into an assisted living near my children.. So much is changing and not until 77
now one day at a time.

I wonder about skin cancer which is generally linked to a lot of exposure to the sun. The only cancer I've had detected was a small area on my face and a very small area on my left hand several years ago. Both were removed at a medical facility nearby.

Since I live in Seattle, I guess I don't need to worry too much about exposure to the sun.

I've been thinking about the phrase "professional patient." In almost any other context, "professional" is a high compliment. It means doing a difficult job, and doing it well. Why should it have the overtones of a put-down when it's associated with being a patient? I see that as the sign of an antiquated model of the doctor-patient relationship, the one where a patient is expected to be the entirely passive recipient of the doctor's great wisdom and knowledge. "Professional" used to mock, implies the task is trivial.

Which is wrong. There's stuff I need to do to improve my odds. Damn straight I'm going to try to be professional about it. Why would I want to do a sloppy job of something that important?

So anyway. In 2012, I too undertook a major weight loss and fitness initiative, going from 274 lbs to under 150 over the course of two years, and getting to the point where I could walk for long distances at a fairly decent pace. The wake-up call for me was being diagnosed as diabetic. So far I've mostly kept the weight off, and my blood sugar remains under control with diet, no medication needed.

The fitness...? Well, not so much. A persistent cough turned into a diagnosis of interstitial lung disease. When breathing gets harder, so does exercise. A bout with shingles didn't help, either. I had a lung biopsy last April, went on prednisone (with all its attendant precautions against side effects) in June, and have only just gotten to the point where I feel like I can work on getting back into shape. Nine days so far.

And you know what? I already can feel my body responding. That exercising I did earlier wasn't wasted. Getting into shape for the first time takes longer. Doable, but it takes patience and persistence. It looks like getting back at least some of what I had is going to be noticeably easier!

Thank you Ronnie and your "lucky for me" picking machine for pulling out my name as a winner of the Social Silver Surfers ebook. I expect it to arrive shortly. I must have won something during my 84 years but I know, even though I am a writer, it has never been a book-my favorite thing.


Yes, i see so many elders who seem to have given up. Or given in, something. Of course, from passing someone in the grocery store, what do I really know? But I watched my ex-mother and father in law both give up before the going got tough enough to make that necessary. Rather than DO something about fear of falling, etc, they would sit.........and sit......and sit. We Americans of all ages have become great sitters. Adapt and survive is the watchword here, in all things. Can't sit lotus on the floor for meditation? Sit in a chair! Ditto yoga, adapt the exercises, in any discipline that, really, you can't or shouldn't do. Having said all this rah rah stuff, there are days, especially when I was on prednisone, when I.Just.Couldn't.Do.It. I know the feeling, and it's real.
Once again, Ronni, I'm an admirer, taking off the weight like that. You rock.

I took off gobs of weight by getting two teeth extracted and then getting deathly sick. Couldn't eat anything and keep it down. I went from 160 to 104 in a couple of months. Kind of a drastic way to do it, but I'll take what I can get...

But I'm still skeptical about the cause(s) of cancer. We have all been exposed to carcinogens throughout our lives, whether it's cigarette smoke, asbestos, herbicides, pesticides, plastic resins, solvents, lead, mercury -- you name it. And now it's excessive weight.

Corporations expose their workers and consumers to thousands of chemicals and elements daily and, some people seem to be more sensitive to them than others are. One of the great bugaboos today is high fructose sugars and all the additives used in food. Even McDonalds' stuff doesn't taste the same any more. The hamburger is like trying to eat reconstituted cardboard. There is no taste or texture. Supposedly they're making them more healthy, but at the expense of enjoyment. The bottling companies are using high fructose sugar because it's cheaper, not because it's better for us.

When I was a child there were relatively few "chubby" kids, but today most kids are fat. Lack of exercise is a contributing factor, but I suspect that the synthetic additives also play a huge part.

I have almost quit eating. I know that's not good for me, but most food is repugnant to me now except for vegetables with strong tastes like spinach.

Holy ----! That was an eye opener! To think you might not have been treated. That gives me great pause. Thank you for sharing information that is very relevant to our demographic, actually to any adult carrying too much weight.

I'm with Classof65 on being skeptical about causes of cancer. And this new anxiety about the link between cancer and obesity seems questionable. As always, it's important to know who's paying for the studies. There's a lot of money to be made in the weight loss industry and the more you can scare people, the more likely they are to spend some money to keep their weight down, even when they're not obese. While it's still too common, childhood obesity has been trending downward for the past few years. A lot of adults who truly were obese are having bariatric surgery, which is a risk and a big deal itself. While I agree that its always a good idea to get adequate exercise and maintain a reasonable weight, I'm also seeing more and more women these days who look like they weigh what they might have in grade school., and I'm not sure that's very healthy, either.

As far as what may be the greatest risk of cancer, I am most concerned about the exposure to chemicals. In going around to estate sales this summer, I was astonished by the number of yards I saw being maintained by services that routinely use fertilizers and pesticides, regardless of need. And they're all using a number of gas-powered mowers and other tools. This is all going into the air, the water supply, our pets' fur, and has been for some time now. Rachel Carson faced a strong resistance to her theories decades ago when she came out with "Silent Spring." I'm not sure that living in subdivisions where cadres of yard care people are out all day, every day, in the spring through the fall pumping stuff into the environment is good for our health either. And I don't know how you avoid those getting those chemicals into your own body even though you don't follow these practices -- they're everywhere.

And we haven't even talked about stress . . .

6 1/2 years ago I started a vegan 21 day kick start program....kept it up and within one year I had lost 12 lbs. and have kept it off all these weigh between 123 to 125. I am 5'3" now.... due to arthritis, have shrunk one 1/2 inches. I am 77 and when I think how ill my mother was at 77 I am glad that I have HAD to exercise and eat healthy. I was able to get off statins 6 years ago after taking them for years.

I have kept active as I always have had to hike, and do aerobics, in past, now walk, hike, and do yoga. This to keep my depression has helped my cholesterol, my weight, my stress levels, my arthritis, etc. etc. My husband has heart disease in his family, and he had a quad bypass 4 years ago, so he is a (fanatic) vegan, and also never eats any no oil. He exercises everyday for 45 min. on treadmill or 1 hour bike ride., but this is not a change, he has been doing this for 40 years. He is 77, 6'2" and weighs about 160 and eats like a horse.

We have been married 21 years and during time we never ate much meat, and no red meat at all due to both having inherited genetic high cholesterol.

Glad you are doing well, Ronni....and that you lost that extra weight and got in shape so you upped your chances of surviving cancer and, I hope, living longer.

Yes, it's sad to see all the obese youngsters these days, and also mostly obese women with male partners who are not obese....what's up with that?


I'm a long way beyond skeptical of that information about the correlation between weight and cancer. In fact, I don't believe a word of it.

Doctors like to shift the blame onto patients for disease, until some smarter researchers (usually in places like Canada) come along and refute whatever they think they've proved. Never forget that medical error is now the third leading cause of death in the U.S. while doctors continue to fudge the information Why would anyone trust doctors to tell the truth?

I remember a few years ago medical researchers in the U.S. proved that people who were 20 pounds overweight died younger, then some upstart Canadians came along and proved people actually live longer with some extra weight. The Canadian research made use of better protocols and it has not been disproved to date.

I'm not overweight, but I've worked for U.S. medical researchers and I don't trust any of them now. The corporation writing the checks is the main determinant of research results.

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