Living

Cancer is the leading cause of death in Canada—can eating less prevent you from becoming a statistic?

As cancer researchers continue to seek not only the cure for the affliction, but also for its very cause, others continue to look for preventive strategies that may preserve overall health, or at the very least delay the risk of falling victim to illness and disease.

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Masterfile

According to StatsCan, cancer is now the leading cause of death in Canada, accounting for more than 30 percent of deaths in 2008. (Heart disease and stroke accounted for 21 percent and six percent of deaths, respectively.) The data also revealed that cancer was the leading cause of mortality for Canadians age 35 to 84. 

As cancer researchers continue to seek not only the cure for the affliction, but also for its very cause, others continue to look for preventive strategies that may preserve overall health, or at the very least delay the risk of falling victim to illness and disease. 

Eating a calorie-reduced diet (via ScienceDaily) appears to be one way to strike a blow against the perils of decline and aging. One new study from researchers at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden suggests that eating less helps reduce the risk of developing such diseases as cancer and type 2 diabetes. 

How may cutting calories do so much? The researchers believe that calorie restriction keeps aging in check by allowing an important enzyme to continue working in the body rather than be “inactivated” by the wear and tear of aging. 

The enzyme, called peroxiredoxin, which helps break down harmful chemicals in cells, loses its force as we age. Keeping it in good working order is important as it’s useful “in counteracting damage to our genetic material,” said one of the study’s researchers, Mikael Molin. 

When the enzyme is weakened we’re more susceptible “to various types of genetic defects and cancer,” said Molin. By reducing caloric intake, however, we help preserve the force of the enzyme, leading researchers to speculate that eating less can “counteract, or at least delay, the development of cancer.” 

That’s not the only potentially positive implication of keeping this enzyme alive. As Science Daily notes, peroxiredoxins have also been linked to preventing the kind of cellular damage that’s considered an aspect in the development of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.