For all you lovers of fast foods and sweet snacks, I have some more bad news.
Now, a new study published in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention, reveals that consuming too much sugar and fat could increase your chances of colorectal cancer.
The study was conducted by researchers at Aberdeen and Edinburgh universities, who found that those who ate the most ‘high-energy snack foods’, such as fast food, desserts, chocolates, cookies, cakes, sweets, nuts and chips, were 18 percent more likely to have developed bowel cancer than those who ate the least.
According to the BBC, these findings held true even when obesity and lack of exercise, factors already known to raise the risk of bowel cancer, were taken into account. They also confirmed that the link between these foods and bowel cancer was high even after other factors such as smoking habits and family history of cancers were considered.
Bowel cancer and colorectal cancer are generally used interchangeably and refer to cancer that begins in the large intestine. It may also be referred to as colon or rectal cancer, depending on the part of the intestine that it affects. An estimated 50,830 people in the U.S. will die of colon and rectal cancers in 2013. According to the American Cancer Society, the lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer is about 1 in 20.
That makes this cancer second only to lung cancer; the estimated number of deaths from lung cancer for 2013 is 159,480.
So this is an important study.
Researchers at the two universities asked more than 2,000 men and women with bowel cancer to fill in a lengthy questionnaire about what their diets were like before diagnosis.
Another group of around 3,000 volunteers of a similar age and from similar areas also answered the questions, covering around 170 different foods.
From the BBC:
Those studies identified two distinct eating patterns. One was high in fruit, vegetables and other healthy foods and the other – known as the western pattern – was high in meat, fat and sugar.
The healthy dietary pattern was found to be associated with a decreased colorectal cancer risk, while the western dietary pattern was found to be associated with an increased risk.
Dr Evropi Theodoratou, of the University of Edinburgh’s School of Molecular, Genetic and Population Health Sciences, said: “What we have found is very interesting and it merits further investigation using large population studies.”
Happily for us caffeine-lovers, the study also found drinking lots of coffee could have a protective effect.
Some people will undoubtedly assert that such a small study cannot possibly have any validity.
Mike Lean, professor of nutrition at Glasgow University, agrees, pointing out that the numbers could have been influenced by the cancer patients placing more emphasis on foods they believed to be bad for them.
From The Daily Mail:
He added: ‘We can’t yet start saying that this science shows that these foods cause bowel cancer.
But we are fairly sure that eating more fruit and vegetables and taking more exercise can prevent cancer.’
Avoiding processed foods, and maintaining a balanced diet, is the best way to go.
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