Be a healthy weight

Older man lifting weights

After quitting smoking, keeping a healthy weight is one of the best ways to reduce your chance of getting cancer. According to the Healthy Ireland Survey, 43% of men are overweight and a further 25% are obese.

Research shows that many cancers - 11, in fact - are more common in men who are overweight. This includes bowel cancer, oesophageal (food pipe) cancer, kidney cancer and pancreatic cancer.

Why is this so? Simply put, fat cells in your body make hormones. So if you are overweight, you make more hormones. And high levels of certain hormones can increase the risk of cancer.

Are you the right weight?

The best way to find out if you are a health weight is to measure your waist or calculate your body mass index (BMI).

To calculate your body mass index, check out page 18 of our Reduce your Risk of Cancer booklet or else use the calculator at the SafeFood website.

To measure your waistline, find the top of your hip bone and measure your waist at this point. Make sure the tape measure is snug, but not marking your skin. Take the measurement at the end of your normal breath. If your waist measurement is over 37 inches or 94cm, it’s time to take action by eating smarter and being active.

Fat but fit?

You can be fat and fit, but the extra fat still causes you problems. It increases your risk of cancer and other diseases such as high blood pressure and heart disease. Where fat is stored in your body also affects your health. For example, extra fat stored around your waist puts you at an even greater risk of cancer.

Take control of your weight

To take control of your weight, eating smarter and being active go hand-in-hand. This will also significantly reduce your chance of getting cancer.

Other tips to help us men take control of our weight include:

  • Eat breakfast - Get your metabolism going by eating breakfast. Then eat meals at regular times during the day to keep up your energy levels.
  • Don’t overeat - Watch your portion sizes and try not to have second helpings.
  • Avoid liquid calories - Sugary fizzy drinks, fruit squashes and alcohol are high in sugar and calories.
  • Drink lots of water - Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day.
  • Never shop when you’re hungry - Make a list so that you’re not tempted by unhealthy treats.
  • Eat slowly - Enjoy the taste of your food and eat at a table if possible.
  • Take exercise - Regular exercise can speed up weight loss and make you feel great. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise or 10,000 steps a day.
  • Avoid high-calorie fatty and sugary foods - Go for low-fat or low-sugar options and pick healthy snacks like fruit.

You can also download the Weight-Mate app from safefood. Available in the App Store and Google Play.

Date Last Reviewed: 
Friday, June 2, 2017