We’ve often discussed in this forum that one of the most prevalent risk factors associated with obesity is the increased risk of cancer. Scientists are narrowing down some of the worst culprits of obesity and their role in that increased risk.

Processed meats win the prize for the worst thing you can do for yourself if you are trying to control your weight and have decided that, given a choice, you would prefer not to have cancer in your life. In a report that is drawing fire from the food industry, excessive intake of red meat, and to a greater degree, processed meats, are shown to contribute to a significant increase in the risk of cancer of the colon, kidney, pancreas, esophagus and uterus as well as post menopausal breast cancer.

While the report was especially rough on bacon, sausage and pepperoni, it recommended guidelines limiting intake of red meat to just over a pound a week. I gave some thought to my own habits, and while I certainly don’t keep track of that kind of data, I suspect that I run at or below that amount. I remember staying with some cousins of mine who were ranchers several years back and being shocked at the amount of meat they filled their days with. They probably met that weekly recommendation on a daily basis.

Life insurance applications and underwriters don’t ask about your eating habits, although the evidence is generally shown in things like weight, lab results, health issues, etc.

I had a client recently that expressed dismay that the quote I provided didn’t hold up when he weighed 20 more pounds on the exam than what he had stated to me and had indicated on the application. He said that I should make people aware of anything that could possibly effect their rate prior to them applying. I don’t know why that struck me as odd, but it did. Life insurance rates are all about assessing risk. But, for the sake of any future customers, my disclaimer: “Anything that puts you more at risk of disease puts you more at risk of premature death and puts you into a higher rate category.”

Bottom line. It’s all about taking care of yourself and making prudent choices in your life. We can’t expect to waltz through life eating recklessly and piling on the pounds and not have our bodies revolt at some point. If that is the direction you choose, my recommendation would be to get your life insurance before the next toll booth comes into sight. Weight alone can affect your rates, but cancer, in some cases, can keep you from being offered insurance at any rate.