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Diet and Cancer Risk

Posted 4/9/2013

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  Once again, we have researchers telling us that we really don't know much, if anything, about the impact of diet on cancer risk. Note that this isn't about the possible associations between diet and risk of cancer recurrence--that is an even less well known and illusive topic. Once again, we do hear that a "healthy diet" is a good thing, and even that living a "heart healthy lifestyle" (healthy diet, exercise, don't smoke, weight control, etc.) is a good thing. I come back often to this topic because there is so much interest in the foods we eat and the magical wish that, by controlling our diets, we could control our risks.

  When someone is diagnosed with cancer of any kind, it is likely that one of the first questions will be about diet. What should I eat to stay healthy? What should I eat during treatment? And, the big one, what should I eat to keep the cancer away? There are many people offering answers to those questions, answers that often include purchasing their products or diets or books. There are many scientists continuing to try to find accurate answers, but we are not there yet. Here is more:


Diet and Breast Cancer Risk: What’s the Connection?

By: Rebecca V. Snowden

There are some things we know can help reduce breast cancer risk: staying at a healthy weight, being physically active, taking certain medications. But is there any connection between your diet and your risk of breast cancer?

Despite being an area of intense research, the role of diet in breast cancer risk remains unclear.

Low fat = Low breast cancer risk?

Several studies have found that breast cancer is less common in countries where the typical diet is low in total fat. However, in studies of women in the US, researchers haven’t been able to show that eating less fat helps reduce breast cancer risk, nor have they have been able to show that eating a high fat diet increases risk.

But it’s clear that calories do count, and fat is a major source of these.

Foods from animal sources are the biggest contributors of total fat and saturated fat in the American diet. For this reason, the American Cancer Society recommends limiting consumption of meats, especially high-fat ones. Although researchers haven’t been able to show a direct link to breast cancer, consumption of meat--especially red meats--has been linked to other cancers, most notably colon and prostate.


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