Thousands of cancer cases could be avoided if we change our eating habits

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A recent study suggest that more than 80,000 cancer cases diagnosed in the United States each year could be linked to an unhealthy diet.  The excessive consumption of processed meat and the lack of wholegrain cereals are being singled out as main issues. How could changing our eating habits make a difference? 

Using a new mathematics model, researchers from the University of Tufts have recently estimated that in 2015, 80,110 new cancer cases in  the United States could be linked with an unhealthy diet.  This represents around 5% of diagnosed cancer case from this year.  According to researchers, it is similar to the percentage of cancer cases linked to alcohol consumption (4 to 6% of annual cancer cases.)  The details of their research were published in the JNCI Cancer Spectrum journal.

Too much meat and not enough wholegrain cereal

In America, some of the foods which are under consumed include wholegrain cereal, fruit and vegetables. Instead many people opt for foods that are known for encouraging the risk of certain types of cancers.  This includes red meat, processed meat  and sugary drinks in particular.

So they could carry out this study, researchers examined the data from several national studies regarding the American diet.  Thanks to computer models, researchers were then able to establish a link with the declared cases of cancer in 2015. Colorectal cancer figures as the most common declared cancer linked with an unhealthy diet (38% of total cases).  However other cancers like mouth, pharynx, larynx, uterus and post-menopausal breast cancers are also related.  People between the age of 45 – 65 years old are most commonly affected by these types of cancers. 

barbecue viande manger
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“Our results highlight the possibility of reducing the burden of cancer and disparities in the United States by improving food consummation,” explains Fang Fang Zhang, the main author of the study.  Researchers call on health authorities to better inform consumers about the benefits of wholemeal cereals and the dangers of processed meat through labeling.

Say “No” to unhealthy foods!

A recent study published in Cell Metabolism revealed that ultra-processed foods are in fact encouraging us to eat more.   Eating these foods therefore makes us gain more weight that non-processed foods as we can become addicted.  Being more aware of biological mechanisms could encourage people to eat healthier options despite the temptation.

Staying in good health involves exercise, no smoking and, of course, a healthy diet which doesn’t include processed foods rich in sugar, salt or fat.  You should therefore choose foods that are rich in wholegrain cereals, fruits, vegetables and beans if you are looking to lower your risk of cancer.


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