New Study Estimates Preventable Cancer Burden Linked to Poor Diet in the U.S.

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New Study Estimates Preventable Cancer Burden Linked to Poor Diet in the U.S.

A new study from researchers at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts estimated the association between suboptimal consumption of seven types of foods and specific cancers.

A new modeling study estimates the number, proportion, and type of specific cancers associated with the under or overconsumption of foods and sugar-sweetened beverages among American adults. The analysis is one of the few to focus on the modifiable risk factors for cancer connected to food intake in the United States.

The study, published today in JNCI Cancer Spectrum, estimates that diet-related factors may account for 80,110 of the new invasive cancer cases reported in 2015, or 5.2 percent of that year’s total among U.S. adults. This is comparable to the cancer burden associated with alcohol, which is 4 to 6 percent. Excessive body weight, meanwhile, is associated with 7 to 8 percent of the cancer burden, and physical inactivity is associated with 2 to 3 percent.

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

To estimate the cancer burden associated with suboptimal diet, the researchers utilized the risk estimates of diet and cancer relations based on meta-analyses of prospective cohort studies with limited evidence of bias from confounding, mostly from the World Cancer Research Fund International (WCRF) and the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) Third Expert Report.

That report notes that there is convincing or probable evidence for low whole grain, low dairy, high processed meat, and high red meat consumption on colorectal cancer risk; low fruit and vegetable consumption on risk of cancer of the mouth, pharynx, and larynx; and high processed meat consumption on stomach cancer risk. The researchers also included sugar-sweetened beverages in the study due to known associations between obesity and 13 types of cancer.

Read on: New Study Estimates Preventable Cancer Burden Linked to Poor Diet in the U.S.

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