As reported by Newsday, November 1, 2007.

Weight, Alcohol and Red Meat Cited as Cancer Risks

By Delthia Ricks

Shedding unhealthy pounds, limiting alcohol consumption and shying away from red meats are highlighted as tips anyone can follow to help prevent cancer, according to a joint international report released Wednesday by two leading research organizations.

Scientists with the American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund in Britain have analyzed thousands of recent studies and produced 10 recommendations to help people lower their risk.

Men should consume no more than two alcoholic beverages daily, and women, only one, the report says. Several studies have associated alcohol consumption with elevated breast cancer risk.

Other recommendations include avoiding cigarettes, red and processed meats, consuming a diet rich in vegetables and exercising 30 minutes a day.

"There is a major and very important conclusion," said Dr. Walter Willet, one of the report's authors, "and that is, overweight and obesity can contribute to an individual's cancer risk -- abdominal circumference, especially," added Willet, referring to what is sometimes called "potbelly syndrome."

"We think people should be as lean as possible without being underweight," said Willet, an epidemiologist and physician at Harvard University's School of Public Health. Fat, especially in the mid-section, can increase the production of hormones that drive development and growth of cancer cells, he said.

Dr. Joseph Anderson, who until 10 days ago was a gastroenterologist at Stony Brook University, said the report reinforces findings from research he reported earlier this month.

Now on staff at the University of Connecticut, Anderson found that obese women, particularly those carrying significant belly fat, were more likely to develop colorectal cancer than their leaner counterparts. "One-fifth of all colorectal cancer in women may be related to obesity," he said.

The new report by the two nonprofit organizations is their first in a decade. Leading scientists who participated in producing the guidelines reviewed more than 7,000 scientific studies to reach their conclusions. In their 1997 report, they linked fat only to uterine cancer. Now the authors say the scientific evidence is compellingly convincing that fat plays a role in uterine, pancreatic, colorectal, kidney, esophageal and post-menopausal breast cancers.

The guidelines also caution against consuming sugary foods and soft drinks.

"If the entire national expenditure for soft drinks could be directed to cancer research we could dramatically increase our overall research budget," said Dr. Larry Norton, deputy physician-in-chief at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan, adding $68 billion is spent annually on soft drinks compared with $5 billion allocated each year to the National Cancer Institute.

"The report is totally consistent with recent research," he said. "I think it's a well done overview. There is no conflicting evidence. It lends strength to things we have been teaching people for several years."