Weight loss: How getting fit can reduce your risk of cancer

It's not all about how you look, as studies find weight loss fights against cancer and inflammation

Weight loss avoiding cancer risks
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If you've decided to lose weight, you might be following the best exercises for weight loss to look better, or be able to hit a particular fitness goal. However, as we're sure you know, there's a plethora of health benefits involved in losing weight, notably a reduction in inflammation in the body. 

Inflammation, notably swelling, heat, redness and pain, is one of our body's defence system. However, it often works overtime, leading to chronic, persistent conditions and diseases such as arthritis, pancreatitis, Crohn's disease, lots of different kinds of skin diseases and, yes, even cancer. Unregulated, inflammation can be a double-edged sword, harming our bodies as well as protecting it. 

Chronic inflammation is tied to obesity, according to several modern studies. One piece of research published by the American Association for Cancer Research examined postmenopausal women who lost five percent of their body weight in fat, finding all their markers for chronic inflammation drastically decreased, making them less likely to suffer from most forms of cancer. 

Woman working out in the morning

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"Both obesity and inflammation have been shown to be related to several types of cancer, and this study shows that if you reduce weight, you can reduce inflammation as well," said Anne McTiernan, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Prevention Center at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle and lead author of the study.

"So this program (losing 5-10% body fat) was highly achievable and reproducible. We are not talking about drastic weight loss," said McTiernan. 

"This study adds to the growing understanding we have about the link between obesity and cancer, and it appears we can affect inflammation directly through nonpharmaceutical means."

Best exercise bike

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We've got loads of tips to get you going, from the best exercise bike to get you doing cardio safely in lockdown, to the best protein powders for weight loss. One of the most important pieces of advice to follow is the old adage "abs are made in the kitchen". A combination of exercise and diet, rather than choosing one or the other, is the most effective way to lose weight. 

When it comes to the most effective exercise to get started, we recommend HIIT, or high intensity interval training. It's one of the most efficient ways to burn lots of calories quickly. To get started, you could try our four-week HIIT shape up challenge. When choosing your diet, you could opt for any number of weight loss programmes, but make sure whatever you do is sustainable: find the right plan for you, which you feel you can stick with. 

Matt Evans

Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and is currently Fitness and Wellbeing Editor at TechRadar, covering all things exercise and nutrition on Fit&Well's tech-focused sister site. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen runner, gym-goer, and infrequent yogi. His top fitness tip? Stretch.