What role does our diet play in cancer development?
According to a new study, our diet can have a greater impact on our cancer risk than previously thought. Researchers discovered that thousands of people get cancer every year because they eat unhealthy food.
A recent study by Tufts University in Boston has shown that an unhealthy diet causes thousands of cancers every year, which are usually easy to avoid because people pay more attention to what they eat. The results of the study were published in the English-language journal "JNCI Cancer Spectrum".
More than 80,000 Americans became ill from cancer in 2015 due to their diet
In the US alone in 2015, an estimated 80,110 new cases of adult cancer from the age of 20 were due to people who fed unhealthily, the authors report. This represents about 5.2 percent of all new cases of invasive cancer that were diagnosed in American adults only in 2015. This ratio is comparable to the number of cancers due to alcohol.
Seven forms of nutrition were studied
Researchers evaluated a total of seven nutritional factors for their study: low intake of vegetables, fruit, whole grains and dairy products, as well as a high intake of meat products, red meat and sugary drinks. Low consumption of whole grains was associated with the highest number of cancer cases in the US, followed by low consumption of dairy products, high consumption of meat products, low intake of fruit and vegetables, high consumption of red meat and high intake of sugar-sweetened drinks.
Which types of cancer were particularly common?
Researchers used a comparative risk assessment model that estimated and evaluated the number of malignant cancer cases in terms of nutritional effects on cancer in the US. Previous studies have already shown that high consumption of processed meat increases the risk of colorectal cancer and the use of low-fat whole-grain cancer lowers the risk of colorectal cancer, the study authors explain. However, the new study quantifies the number and proportion of new forms of cancer due to a poor diet at the national level. The researchers found that, at 38.3 percent, colon and rectal cancer represented the highest number and the highest percentage of food-related diseases.
Our diet is important for cancer prevention
Further research is needed to determine whether similar associations occur in the United States for other periods. All in all, our diet remains one of the few influenceable risk factors for cancer prevention, the researchers report. The findings emphasize the need to reduce the cancer burden by improving the intake of important food groups and nutrients.
Danger from ultra-processed food
So-called ultra-processed foods are a growing part of the global diet. For example, a 2016 study found that 60 percent of the calories in the average American diet came from this type of food. You can protect yourself against cancer by avoiding ultra-processed foods and opting for organic foods instead. A study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine last year showed that people who often eat organic food reduce the overall risk of cancer. (As)