Food For Thought: Poor Diet Raises Cancer Risk

23-May-2019 - USA

The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison, said Anne Wigmore, a Lithuanian-American holistic health practitioner. 

But how many of us take care to eat right? 

A new study by Tufts University has found an association between diet and specific type of cancers among American adults. 

For the study, the researchers linked data from two recent National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey cycles (2013-2014 and 2015-2016) with cancer incidences in 2015. An analysis of the data has thrown up some interesting findings as summarized below.

  • Consumption of low whole grain, low dairy, high processed meat, and high red meat consumption is linked to colorectal cancer risk - with 38.3 percent of all colorectal cancer cases in 2015 associated with suboptimal diets.
  • Consumption of low fruit and vegetables is tied to cancer of the mouth, pharynx, and larynx - with 25.9 percent of all reported cases in 2015 tied to poor diet.
  • The study has also found convincing evidence for high processed meat consumption on stomach cancer risk.

Of the diet-associated cancer cases, approximately 16 percent were attributable to obesity-mediated pathways. In sum, 80,110 of the new invasive cancer cases reported in 2015, or 5.2 percent of that year's total cancer cases among U.S. adults were linked to poor diets. 

Commenting on the findings, the study's first and corresponding author Fang Fang Zhang, a cancer and nutrition researcher at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts, said, "Our findings underscore the opportunity to reduce cancer burden and disparities in the United States by improving food intake." 

The study is published in JNCI Cancer Spectrum, an international, peer-reviewed, open access journal.

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