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Western diet

Western diet boosts colon cancer risk by 300 per cent

Thursday, January 24, 2008 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: western diet, colon cancer, processed foods


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(NewsTarget) The rates of recurrence or death from colon cancer were nearly 3.5 times higher among patients who ate a typical Western diet than among those who followed it least closely, in a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Researchers collected data on 1,009 people who had undergone surgery and chemotherapy for colon cancer in the two years between April 1999 and May 2001. In all cases, the cancer had metastasized to the lymph nodes but had not spread to other organs. The participants filled out standardized surveys about their dietary preferences and habits during chemotherapy and the six months following. They were then tracked for five years.

Of the 1,009 patients who began the study, 324 experienced cancer recurrence during those five years, and 223 of those died. Only 28 of the people who did not experienced recurrence died in the same period.

The dietary habits of the cancer patients fell into two basic patterns: The "Western" diet was characterized by the consumption of large amounts of red and processed meats, refined grains and sugars; the "prudent" diet was characterized by consumption of large amounts of fruits, vegetables and relatively higher amounts of poultry and fish relative to red meat.

The researchers found that cancer recurrence and death were almost 3.5 times more common among people who adhered most closely to the Western diet than among those who ate the lowest amounts of red and processed meats, refined grains and sugars.

"Doctors who treat colon cancer patients need to have the conversation about diet," said researcher Jeffrey Meyerhardt. "From my own experience I know that patients ask about this a lot. They want to know what they should be eating and whether they should be exercising."

The researchers warned that the study only demonstrates a correlation, and not causality between diet and colon cancer. According to Michael Thun, a spokesperson for the American Cancer Society, however, there are already many other health reasons for eating higher amounts of fruits and vegetables and avoiding the foods associated with the "Western" diet.

But consumer health advocate Mike Adams has no doubt about the causes of colorectal cancer. "There's no question that eating dead, processed and chemically-treated foods promotes the development of colon cancer," he said. "Preventing colon cancer is as simple as adopting a diet primarily based on raw plants and living foods. Colon cancer simply disappears, and cancer risk throughout the body plummets on a raw foods diet."

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