Friday, July 23, 2010

New Studies About Nutrition and Cancer by Jerry Brainum

Some newly published studies offer interesting information about the relationship between nutrition and cancer onset.The first study examined the connection between red meat and colorectal cancer (CRC). Red meat has been frequently implicated as a cause of this type of cancer. But according to more recent studies, whether meat plays any significant role in  this disease depends on several factors. For one, overcooking meat can produce some carcinogens in the meat, but this doesn't occur when meat isn't cooked to the point of being burnt, or well-done. In addition, processed meats contain additives, such as nitrates, that can have an effect on cancer. Such additives aren't present in red meat that isn't processed. In the new study, the relationship of red meat intake and CRC was examined in 720 white and 225 black people who were compared with 800 white and 159 black control subjects. The dietary intake was examined for one year. The results showed no connection between the onset of CRC and the consumption of total, saturated, or monounsaturated fat. The percent of energy from protein intake was associated with a 47% risk reduction in white subjects.
 Thus, according to this study, the notion that dietary intake of fat, protein, and red meat predisposes to the onsetof CRC is not true.
Another study looked at any links between prostate cancer onset and protein, fat, cholesterol, and carbohydrates. The study looked at the incidence of cancer in eight Canadian provinces over a three-year period, involving 1,797 cases of prostate cancer and 2,547 controls (no cancer). Those in the study completed a 69 item food questionnaire 2 years prior the the study onset. The results showed that the highest risk for prostate cancer onset involved a high consumption of trans fat. 

 Consuming large amounts of sugar also increased the risk of prostate cancer. Cholesterol intake actually lowered the risk. No link was found between prostate cancer and the consumption of protein or fat. Interestingly, only more complex sugars, such as table sugar (sucrose) showed any relationship to cancer. Simple sugars, or monosaccharides, showed no relationship. This is interesting because other studies show that simple sugars produce the greatest release of insulin, and insulin, in turn, promotes higher blood levels of insulinlike growth factor-1 (IGF-1). IGF-1 has been linked to prostate cancer promotion in several past studies. As for trans fat, this type of processed fat has long been associated with both cancer and cardiovascular disease. It also interferes with testosterone synthesis and amino acid metabolism. It should be avoided by everyone.

Willimans C, et al. Associations of red meat, fat, and protein intake with distal colorectal cancer risk.Nutr Cancer 2010;62:701-709.
Hua J, et al. Nutrients and the risk of prostate cancer.Nutr Cancer 2010;62:710-718.

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