Tis the season of religious celebrations and holidays marked by special foods and feasting. This December edition of The C Word focuses on “Fingers, Forks, and Feet” or healthy eating tips, physical activity, and obesity and the link with cancer. From 2017-2018, 42.4% of the US population were obese, a growing trend.

Thirteen (13) different cancers are associated with obesity and overweight, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Many of these cancers involve the digestive system, including the esophagus (adenocarcinoma), stomach (gastric cardia), colon and rectum, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, kidney, and the thyroid. Multiple myeloma (a cancer of white blood cells) and meningioma (cancer affecting the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord just inside the skull) are also associated with excess body weight. For women, cancers of the uterus and ovaries as well as breast cancer in post-menopausal women are tied to overweight/obesity. About 40% of all cancers are associated with overweight and obesity.

Fingers, Forks, and Feet

Reduce your cancer risk and maintain a healthy weight for your height throughout your lifetime using your Fingers, Forks, and Feet. With your fingers, do pick up fresh fruits and vegetables. Do pick up glasses or bottles of water, herbal teas, or fruit juices with low sugar content. Limit or do not drink alcohol.

Whether feasting during this celebratory season or eating every day meals, think COLOR! Colored fruits and vegetables contain helpful antioxidants. Consider the following tips for healthier eating using your fork: ∙ Eat a primarily plant-based diet. Eat more fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, dried beans, and nuts. ∙ Eat a variety of proteins. If consuming animal products, choose lean meats, poultry or fish. Limit red meats. ∙ Avoid processed meats. Salting, curing, fermenting, smoking, and other flavor-enhancing or preservation processes such as the use of nitrates and nitrites contribute to carcinogenic properties of processed meats. ∙ Baking meats and steaming vegetables instead of frying is a healthier way to cook.

Keep your feet moving and engage in physical activity every day. Examples include:

∙ 30 minutes of daily activity or 2.5–5 hours of moderate-intensity activity a week, such as a brisk walk.

∙ 1.25–2.5 hours of vigorous physical activity/week, using large muscle groups and increasing your heart rate.


To access fresh fruits and vegetables, grow your own garden or purchase seasonal items at locally grown food sources, Consumer Supported Agriculture (CSA) outlets, and farmers’ markets.

AU Health’s Digestive Health Center assists patients with a broad range of digestive health conditions and has a Center for Obesity and Metabolism. Visit: augustahealth.org/locations/digestive-health.

“The C Word” is a news brief of the Georgia Cancer Center at Augusta University. For cancer info visit: augusta.edu/cancer/community.