A new study published in the JNCI Cancer Spectrum reveals that diet might have more impact on cancer risk than people may think. The study showed an estimated 80,110 new cancer cases among adults 20 and older in the United States in 2015 were attributable simply to eating a poor diet.
“This is equivalent to about 5.2% of all invasive cancer cases among newly diagnosed adults in 2015,” said Dr. Fang Fang Zhang, a nutrition and cancer epidemiologist at Tufts University in Boston who was the study author.
“This proportion is comparable to the proportion of cancer burden attributable to alcohol,” she added.
The 7 main dietary factors that seemed to increase cancer risk were low intake of whole grains, which posed the greatest threat to increase cancer risk, fruits and vegetables, and low dairy intake. High intake of red meat, processed food, and too many sugary drinks such as sodas also increase cancer risk.
“Diet is among the few modifiable risk factors for cancer prevention,” Dr. Zhang said. “These findings underscore the needs for reducing the cancer burden and disparities in the US by improving the intake of Key food groups and nutrients.”
A 2016 study found that 60% of the standard American diet comes from processed foods and experts say a simple switch to Organic whole foods can make a difference in reducing the risk of cancer.
And the American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates a full 20% of all cancers diagnosed in the United States are related to obesity, physical activity, excess alcohol consumption, and poor nutrition.
They also recommend eating vegetables, whole fruit, legumes such as peas and beans, and limiting your intake of sugar sweetened beverages while avoiding processed meat such as bacon, sausage, lunch meats, and hot dogs. The ACS asks we limit consumption of red meat, choosing lean cuts and eating smaller portions.
But Dr. Herman Kattlove, a Los Angeles based oncologist, says he urges caution when looking at diet as a cancer-causing culprit.
“I would imagine that people who eat poor diets have other bad habits like smoking, not exercising and perhaps living in areas with high levels of pollution,” he said. “Just look at all the studies on diet and health that have been around for decades. 1st low fat, then low carb, then starvation, then Mediterranean and on and on.
“At one time, it was thought that high fiber diets prevented colorectal cancer, but that theory was smashed when proper studies were done. But of course, the bottom line is why not eat a healthy diet, unless, as Dirty Harry asks, ‘Are you feeling lucky?'”
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