Well it’s always a good idea to dispel urban myths, so here is one that needs to meet its timely death — there is no reason to pack on the pounds during the holiday season. Everyone seems to think it’s okay to pack on the pounds during winter months because the heavy coats come out, hiding our overindulgences. Somehow we attribute fat with insolation, like we are polar bears or walruses …

In reality, we are still tropical animals, you know, anthropoid primates. We do need and use the proper amount of fat for energy, but we don’t need a “gut.” According to researchers, there is a prevalence for men and women with large bellies, and are sedentary, to develop those crazy cells called cancer. To be more specific, colon and colorectal cancers.

A study in the Netherlands followed over 120,000 Dutch adults between the ages of 55 and 69 who reported their height, weight, their pants or skirt size, and their weight at age 20 to researchers. Over the next 16 years, about two percent of the study participants developed colorectal cancer, and the risk was 25 percent greater for men who were overweight or obese at the beginning of the study.

In women, the findings were different. Abdominal fat was associated with colorectal cancer only when combined with low levels of exercise, defined as less than 30 minutes a day. Women who wore greater than a size 16 in pants (greater than 44″ waist) and got little exercise were 83 percent more likely to develop colon cancer than women in the high physical activity group who had smaller waist measurements.

Laura Hughes of Maastricht University in the Netherlands and lead researcher said that this study provides even more evidence that excessive body fat may be a risk factor for colorectal cancer. Though it’s not clear why abdominal fat in women was associated more so with colorectal cancer only when combined with little exercise, Hughes encouraged women to focus less on the scale and more on maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

The lesson of this report is that you don’t have to be skinny to be healthy. Living an active lifestyle, irrespective of you weight will add years to your life. Exercise will only become easier as you lose weight, but again it is not necessary to lose massive amounts of weight in order to dodge cancer.

So this holiday season, eat your grandmother’s best holiday dish and then get outside and enjoy the crisp, cool air and exercise!

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