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(photo credit: Bloomberg)
If you have trouble seeing beyond your belly when looking down at your feet, you have a significantly higher risk of cancer than if you weren't overweight, according to the Israel Cancer Association, which is marking International Cancer Awareness Day on Wednesday.
The ICA warns that one in 10 children in the world - and nearly one in three Israeli children - weighs too much. According to the International Union Against Cancer, which is organizing the awareness day, a billion people around the globe are overweight or obese.
About 11 million new cases of cancer will be diagnosed and 7 million people will die of it in 2009. If there is no reduction in overweight and treatments are not more successful, some 15 million cancer cases will be diagnosed and 12 million will die in 2020.
According to a study carried out by the World Cancer Research Fund in 2007, 30 percent to 40% of cancer cases - or 3 million to 4 million new cases a year - can be prevented by avoiding overweight, following a proper diet and exercising regularly. New research conducted by Dr. Yair Ben-David at Soroka University Medical Center in Beersheba found that 20% to 30% of Israeli children ages six to 10 are overweight or obese, and they are at high risk for becoming overweight or obese adults.
For every additional five points on the body-mass index scale (weight in kilos divided by weight in meters squared) in overweight or obese people, the risk of kidney cancer is double, of uterine cancer 1.5 times higher. In addition, a quarter of kidney cancers, 11% of colorectal cancers, 9% of breast cancers and 39% of uterine cancers result from overweight or obesity. People continue to eat more as they expend less energy on their jobs, thus increasing the prevalence of overweight, says the ICA.
The cancer association is especially targeting children in the fight against overweight, as they can more easily change their lifestyles. But adults can influence them by serving as good examples, said association director-general Miri Ziv. She recommends eating plenty of vegetables and fruits, whole grains and fish as well as avoiding sugary, high-fat and highly processed food. At least half an hour of heart-thumping exercise is recommended to adults and an hour of it to children each day.