Research shows obesity linked to cancer

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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- There might be a new motivation to lose weight: avoiding cancer.

Nearly 18,000 people in Iowa will be diagnosed with cancer this year, according to a new state report. The annual Cancer in Iowa report said more than 6,000 Iowans will die of cancer this year. That's up slightly from last year but down slightly from five years ago. Breast, Lung and Prostate cancers are the most common forms of cancer in Iowa, making up 38% of all diagnosis.

Lung is the deadliest, accounting for roughly a fourth of cancer deaths in Iowa. Doctors said losing weight could cut the number of cancer cases. Obesity has been linked to several of the most common types of cancers in Iowa. That's why cancer doctors are focusing on advice you might normally hear from a dietitian. Doctor George Weiner's focus is cancer, but on Tuesday, he sounded more like a health coach.

"To help people make the right choices, to live the right lifestyle with the goal of reducing the burden of cancer," said Dr. Weiner, the director of the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Colon, breast, thyroid and even skin cancers all carry an increased risk if you're obese. Those obesity-related cancers account for about 40% of cancer cases in Iowa. Doctor Weiner said even for those already battling cancer, getting in shape can help.

"We've learned from patients even with advanced cancers that an improved lifestyle, exercise and improved diet can actually improve outcomes," said Dr. Weiner.

Dietitians and trainers said even doing the little things can help.

"It doesn't have to be a lot. I always tell people when they're parking their car to park it far away and walk that extra distance or when you have the chance to take the stairs, take the stairs," said Lindsey Frisbie, a registered dietitian for Hy-Vee in Iowa City.

The owner of Serenity Yoga and Pilates in Iowa City said yoga can decrease levels of cortisol in our bodies.

"That's the one that people consider to be the bad one, the one that makes us hold onto weight in the body so that also decreases," said Marcie Evans, the owner of Serenity Yoga and Pilates Studio in Iowa City.

Every little bit helps keep the risk for cancer at bay.

"It's not easy to change how you eat, whether you exercise, how you sleep, the stress in your life but the first step towards doing that is understanding the benefit that can result," said Dr. Weiner.

It's hard to say whether Iowa is winning the fight against cancer? The number of cases has risen in the past few years, but the number of deaths have dropped slightly.