According to a recent report carried by CNN, your diet is likely to have a greater bearing on your cancer risk than you are likely to reason. In 2015 in the United States, about 80,110 new cancer cases diagnosed in adults aged 20 and above were said to be as a result of consuming a poor diet. This is the findings from the research published in the JNCI Cancer Spectrum recently.
“This is equivalent to about 5.2% of all invasive cancer cases newly diagnosed among US adults in 2015,” said Dr. Fang Fang Zhang, a nutrition and cancer epidemiologist at Tufts University in Boston, who was first author of the study.
“This proportion is comparable to the proportion of cancer burden attributable to alcohol,” she said. Seven dietary factors were considered for analysis by the study team. These were a low consumption of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and dairy products as well as a high consumption of processed meats, red meats and sugary beverages, like soft drinks.
“Low whole-grain consumption was associated with the largest cancer burden in the US, followed by low dairy intake, high processed-meat intake, low vegetable and fruit intake, high red-meat intake and high intake of sugar-sweetened beverages,” Zhang said.
Also considered for the study between 2013 and 2016 was the statistics of dietary behaviour of adult Americans – taken from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, and statistics on national cancer incidence in 2015 obtained from the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
Applied in the study by the scientists was a comparative risk assessment model, which had to do with measuring the number of cancer cases that are linked to inadequate nutrition and aiding in assessing the impact of diet in the US cancer burden. The experts made use of diet-cancer associations found in separate studies in arriving at the approximations.
“Previous studies provide strong evidence that a high consumption of processed meat increases the risk of colorectal cancer and a low consumption of whole grains increases the risk of colorectal cancer,” Zhang said. “However, our study quantified the number and proportion of new cancer cases that are attributable to poor diet at the national level.”
It was discovered by the study team that colon and rectal cancers had the highest occurrences – of 38.3% in terms of cases caused by diet. When viewed by dietary behavior, low consumption of whole grains and dairy products and eating a lot of processed meats, the evidences proved that these had more to do with the highest cancer burden.
The experts also discovered that men aged between 45 and 64 years as well as ethnic minorities, including blacks and Hispanics, possessed the highest ratio of diet-related cancer burden when matched with other groups.
Limitations of the research included the fact that the data was not able to give clarification on how the link between nutritional habit and cancer risk is likely to alter as one grows older.
Again, experts say more study will be necessary to conclude if a related association would occur for other years and space of time in the United States.
On the whole, “diet is among the few modifiable risk factors for cancer prevention,” Zhang said. “These findings underscore the needs for reducing cancer burden and disparities in the US by improving the intake of key food groups and nutrients.”
It is generally so – that highly processed foods make up a huge portion of the world’s diet. A 2016 study discovered that 60% of the calories in diet consumed by the average American is derived from this kind of food while a 2017 research discovered that they account for half of the diet consumed by the Canadian. They also account for over 50% of the food eaten in the UK while many more people among the developing countries are beginning to adopt this eating habit.
The scientists are of the high opinion that you are more likely to protect yourself against cancer through staying away from highly processed foods and choosing to go with organic foods instead, according to their findings.
Going by a study published in 2018 in the medical journal JAMA Internal Medicine, people who regularly consume organic foods were able to reduce their risk of developing cancer in general. In particular, people who largely consumed organic foods were more likely to put non-Hodgkin lymphoma and postmenopausal breast cancer at bay than those who never ate or hadn’t the habit of eating organic foods. Also, another research finding published in the same journal recently, says there is a 14% higher risk of people dying with each 10% rise in the amount of highly processed foods eaten by the population.
When posed with the question recently as to why people indulge more in consuming these processed foods, Nurgul Fitzgerald, an associate professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at Rutgers University, had this to say: “We are living in a fast world, and people are looking for convenient solutions. We are always stretched for time.”
“People are looking for quick solutions, a quickly made meal.” When people select food, they first go for taste; it is the number 1 factor for most people, Fitzgerald said. She noted that price and convenience are equally vital, adding that with over processed foods, the element of convenience is “probably top of the list: grab and go, ready to eat.”
By Morgan Nwanguma