In this week’s medical research update, being mildly overweight might not be so bad for you. According to one summary, “overweight people have a lower death rate because they are much less likely to die from a grab bag of diseases that includes Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, infections and lung disease. And that lower risk is not counteracted by increased risks of dying from any other disease, including cancer, diabetes or heart disease.” And so what is meant by “overweight” needs to be reconsidered. But last week’s bulletin, discussed here, suggested that longer life spans are associated with lower weights, and the primary recommendation was to “Be as lean as possible without becoming underweight.” Allright: Epidemiological studies are hard to interpret and some people question the science. Newspapers are oriented to breaking news and treat medical reports as such, relying on he said/she said quotes from experts instead of providing integrative analysis. So who exactly is going to put together the pieces? What about NIH, your tax dollar at work? Or some blogs?
Body fat causes cancer according to a scary report from the American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund that reviewed 7000 studies. Obesity creates "a low-grade chronic inflammatory state" that promotes cancer. This report seems more foreboding than others of its ilk, e.g.: "Even small amounts of excess body fat, especially if carried at the waist, increase risk." Drinking is also carcinogenic: better limit yourself to 2 drinks a day if you're male and 1 if you're female. (Of course, breathing is also bad, and so is sunlight. ) Conclusion: you can live a really long time if you don't like to eat or drink, though you want to avoid taking this to extremes.