Weight And Cancer Risk
- Demoria Elise Williams, an American drag queen known by her stage name Kornbread “The Snack” Jeté, is celebrating how she lost 150 pounds since beating type of small bowel cancer called adenocarcinoma.
- It’s great to see the performer thriving and making time for her health after battling disease, something everyone should prioritize regardless as to whether they a have cancer or not.
- Studies have shown that diet can influence cancer prevention. Heavy alcohol consumption and obesity have been linked to a number of cancers, so it’s a good idea to exercise and maintain a diet that incorporates more fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins while decreasing sodium and added sugar intake.
- Studies have shown that maintaining an active lifestyle can be helpful for cancer prevention, for patients undergoing chemotherapy and other treatments, and for survivors recovering from treatment.
The 31-year-old transgender woman, best known for competing on the 14th season of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” in 2022, took to Instagram this week to reveal she’s lost a whopping 150 pounds just one year after beating cancer.
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It’s clear in the new photo shared in Kornbread’s post that the drag queen star is thriving as she’s pictured standing confidently and holding up a peace sign in a full-body mirror selfie, wearing all black and showing off her small waist.
The comparison photo from a year ago, also shared in the post and see if Instagram users swipe to the next image, shows her wearing an earth-toned color dress and looking drastically different.
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Kornbread’s uplifting post comes more than one year since she went public with her cancer diagnosis.
She wrote in an Instagram post on Sept. 25, 2022, “I’ll cut straight to the point. Recently I was diagnosed with Adenocarcinoma. A type of Cancer in the Smaller intestine.”
“I’m 100% fine and everything is in the early stages so I’ll be back to my normal self in no time,” she explained, stressing that the type of cancer she has is “absolutely curable.”
In her tell-all post, Kornbread also advised her followers to take care of themselves by getting visiting doctors regularly.
“I say this to let everyone know that no matter how young you are PLEASE GET REGULAR check ups. I’m glad I caught mine at this stage,” the performer said, admitting “a lot of health things will be changing” for her at this time.
We’re delighted to see Kornbread feeling good in her own skin, something Ms. Darienne Lake from RuPaul’s Drag Race season 6 understands all too well.
Lake previously spoke to SurvivorNet about discovering her love of drag as a young boy and advice for those facing a cancer diagnosis.
After watching Rocky Horror Picture Show alongside a friend in high school, her life was changed. “That sort of inspired me to explore different parts of my own self as also a gay person,” Lake told SurvivorNet in an earlier interview.
“I thought that drag was just magical to me. It was something so spectacular. And that was something that I kind of wanted to be a part of.”
Lake, who battled melanoma, offered some inspiration words, saying “No matter how bad it is, even if your diagnosis is much worse than mine, you are going to pull through it. You’re going to get the help and you’re going to survive
“You’re going to be one of those people who can then share your message with the world on how you’re survived and thrived.”
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Understanding Small Intestine Cancer
According to the National Cancer Institute, “Small intestine cancer is a rare disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the small intestine.”
The small intestine is described by the institute as “part of the body’s digestive system, which also includes the esophagus, stomach, and large intestine.” Additionally, the NCI says that the small intestine, a tube which acts as a passageway from the stomach to the large intestine, is “the digestive system removes and processes nutrients (vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fats, proteins, and water) from foods and helps pass waste material out of the body.”
Kornbread battled a type of small intestine cancer known as adenocarcinoma, which is just one of the five types of cancer found in this part of the body.
The other types of cancer found in the small intestine are sarcoma, neuroendocrine tumors, gastrointestinal stromal tumor, and lymphoma.
“Adenocarcinoma starts in glandular cells in the lining of the small intestine and is the most common type of small intestine cancer. Most of these tumors occur in the part of the small intestine near the stomach. They may grow and block the intestine,” the NCI explains.
It’s important to know that diet and health history can play a role in one’s risk of developing cancer in the small intestine.
Risk factors for small intestine cancer include:
- Eating a high-fat diet
- Having Crohn disease
- Having celiac disease.
- Having familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP).
Signs and symptoms of small intestine cancer include:
- Pain in the middle of the abdomen
- Weight loss for no reason
- A lump in the abdomen
- Blood in the stool
Diet and Exercise Considerations for Cancer Survivors
It’s never a bad idea to try to lead a healthy lifestyle, and we’re happy Kornbread is doing so herself and inspiring others to do the same. But what should you know about maintaining good health and cancer risk? We’ve got you covered below.
Thinking about Diet
Healthy diet recommendations for cancer-related concerns can differ depending upon who you ask.
Studies have shown that diet can influence cancer prevention. Heavy alcohol consumption and obesity have been linked to a number of cancers, so it’s a good idea to exercise and maintain a diet that incorporates more fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins while decreasing sodium and added sugar intake.
Sugar, specifically, has attracted a lot of attention for a possible role in cancer, but overwhelming medical evidence finds that sugar does not cause cancer. SurvivorNet has previously found that credible sources such as Memorial Sloan-Kettering and M.D. Anderson Cancer Center all came to that same conclusion as well.
But there is still some debate on the subject. Dr. Brian Berman, director of the center for integrative medicine at the University of Maryland, believes sugar does, in fact, fuel cancer.
Below we have shared his views not because it is of equal scientific weight to the sources cited above, but rather because it is a view that does get a lot of attention and press.
There’s also articles that often get published saying “this fruit” or “that vegetable” is the magical cure to cancer. Unfortunately, that’s not necessarily the case.
Leading oncologists say it is always hard to use studies of a single food to make sweeping generalizations about their impact on health.
There is a variety of factors that can determine health risk and it is difficult, and perhaps impossible, to say that a single food such as mushrooms can have a direct impact on cancer risk. Many other factors such as overall diet, environmental risk, genetics and exercise play a role.
Exercising as a Cancer Survivor
According to the National Cancer Institute, physical activity is beneficial for cancer survivors. The NCI cited findings from a report of the 2018 American College of Sports Medicine International Multidisciplinary Roundtable on physical activity and cancer prevention and control in saying that exercise is generally good for cancer survivors. The roundtable also found:
- Strong evidence that moderate-intensity aerobic training and/or resistance exercise during and after cancer treatment can reduce anxiety, depressive symptoms and fatigue and improve health-related quality of life and physical function.
- Strong evidence that exercise training is safe in persons who have or might develop breast-cancer-related lymphedema.
- Some evidence that exercise is beneficial for bone health and sleep quality.
- Insufficient evidence that physical activity can help prevent cardiotoxicity or chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy or improve cognitive function, falls, nausea, pain, sexual function or treatment tolerance.
Still, it’s important to note that other experts like Dr. Sairah Ahmed, associate professor in the Division of Cancer Medicine at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, say being in good shape during your cancer battle is very beneficial.
In fact, studies suggest that physical activity can be a powerful antidote for side effects of cancer treatment like “chemo brain” and, according to Dr. Ahmed, the more physically fit you are during cancer treatment, the less side effects you’ll have and the faster you’ll get back to your normal quality of life.
“In terms of cancer, oftentimes patients feel that they don’t have any control over any part of their life, and that’s not true,” Ahmed told SurvivorNet in an earlier interview.
“Diet, exercise, and stress control are extremely important when going through cancer therapy, as well as once you’re done treating your cancer and trying to get back to the rest of your life.”
And Dr. Ken Miller, the director of outpatient oncology at the University of Maryland Greenebaum Cancer Center, recommends these four things for cancer survivors to do to try and avoid another cancer diagnosis:
- Exercise at least two hours a week, and walking counts
- Eat a low-fat diet
- Eat a colorful diet with lots of fruits and vegetables—doctors recommend two to three cups a day
- Maintain a healthy weight
Dr. Andrea Tufano-Sugarman of NYU Langone Health previously explained to SurvivorNet the benefits of losing weight, saying “While all cancers cannot be prevented, losing weight is a great way to reduce one’s risk.”
And even without losing weight, adopting a more nutritious diet can help.
“Food choices, independent of weight loss, may also help to reduce risk,” Dr. Tufano-Sugarman said. “Research has shown that the Mediterranean diet (rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes, fish and olive oil) is associated with a decreased risk of cancer. Whereas diets rich in red meat may be associated with an increased risk of colorectal and prostate cancer.”
SurvivorNet experts agree that diet and cancer risks are closely related. Overcooked red meat, processed foods like bacon, as well as fatty meats have all been associated with an increased cancer risk.
However, removing these suspected triggers does not always stop cancer from developing, and indulging in them does not necessarily mean a person will get cancer. There is a bit more to understanding cancer risk than that.
We are exposed to carcinogens (substances that can cause cancer) throughout our daily lives, such as when we prepare food. But many people will not go on to develop the disease, according to Dr. Robert Wright, chair of the Department of Environmental Medicine and Public Health at Mount Sinai.
“We create carcinogens all the time in our foods when we cook them, and very few of us get cancer because our bodies can handle them,” Dr. Wright told SurvivorNet in an earlier interview.. “But some people have susceptibilities to these environmental carcinogens, which might be genetic or might be caused by combinations of carcinogens.”
It is important to understand that no one trigger is going to definitively cause cancer, Dr. Wright says, but it could be a combination of triggers in the environment.
No matter what anyone tells you, as far as we know, there is no single food that doctors can point to, with absolute certainty, and say it decreases cancer risk. That does not mean that healthy eating habits are not important.
When it comes to dietary advice that applies to everyone, Dr. Wright is straightforward saying simply eat more vegetables and stay active.
Reaching Milestones as a Cancer Survivor
Reaching milestones during or after a cancer battle is huge. These events – like getting losing weight, celebrating a cancerversary or birthdays, may mean even more than they did previously, so it’s important to take them all in and celebrate all that you’ve overcome.
Chrissy Degennaro, a cancer warrior determined to keep enjoying these precious milestones, is a great example of this. She has been battling a rare blood cancer called multiple myeloma for 14 years, and was first diagnosed when she was just 36 years old with a 2-year-old son.
When she was diagnosed, she almost expected to not be able to see him enter kindergarten. But thanks to 27 rounds of chemotherapy, two stem cell transplants, a CAR-T cell trial and two CAR-T cell transplants over following 14 years, she’s able to keep making memories with her family.
“You know, I do live one day at a time,” Chrissy previously told SurvivorNet. “Now, maybe I can go a week, a month, but things are looking pretty good. I’m able to be here for more milestones for my son, for more holidays, more birthdays. I do feel like I have had another chance at life.”
Contributing: SurvivorNet Staff