The joys of walking: losing weight as cancer prevention

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by Dalene Entenmann, The Cancer Blog, 24 Oct 2006

Approximately 3 percent of all new cancers in the United States are linked to obesity, according to the US National Cancer Institute. Stay trim to cut cancer risk, that is what the headline reads. Researchers hypothesis that fat might be preventing apoptosis -- the process in which cancer cells perform a sort of suicide. But it's all untested speculation at this point as to how fat might affect cancer development and growth.

Recently, Rutgers University researchers conducted tests on mice and found leaner mice were less susceptible to developing cancer. Cancer cells in fatter mice died much more slowly, twice as slow as their skinny counterparts. The study is published in the National Academy of Sciences.

In other weighty health-related news, University of Pittsburgh researchers are reporting that overweight middle-aged people who walked briskly for 30 to 60 minutes a day lost 7 pounds in 18 months, while similar adults who didn't exercise consistently gained seven pounds in that time.

During the study, the participants were advised to eat healthy foods but not to restrict the amount of food beyond the norm. Seventy-five percent chose walking as their form of exercise.

Walking is a wonderful exercise for the body, mind and spirit. Most people do not walk alone, and this is a leisurely time to visit and enjoy each other's company. In addition, it's a way to slow down and reconnect with the world around you. Walking is a time to take deep breaths. Living Out Loud author Keri Smith, who blogs The Wish Jar Journal, often blogs about her many observances and adventures in walking and uses it as an exercise in creativity and a renewal of wonder in the every day. Delightfully, she collects things on her walk.

I am a fan of walking. Anyone can walk. During breast cancer treatments (except for the time my red blood cell count dropped so low I didn't have enough steam to make it across the room) walking was something I could do even if I did not have the stamina or will for more formal exercise.

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