Bowel cancer: Dr Hilary outlines the main symptoms
We use your sign-up to provide content in ways you’ve consented to and to improve our understanding of you. This may include adverts from us and 3rd parties based on our understanding. You can unsubscribe at any time. More info
It is well established that our diet plays a huge role in our health and wellbeing. Often not eating enough of a certain food can lead to notable deficiencies while too much of others can cause weight gain and issues such as high blood pressure. Now scientists have shown that what you eat can have far-reaching – and potentially fatal – consequences.
A study published in the British Medical Journal explored the link between a processed diet and bowel cancer.
The disease, which is also known as colorectal cancer, is the fourth most common cancer in the UK, accounting for 11 percent of new cancer cases.
It is the second most common cause of cancer deaths, with 16,800 in the UK every year.
The research – conducted by academics from universities in the US, Canada and Brazil – concluded that men who ate high rates of ultra-processed foods had a 29 percent higher risk of bowel cancer compared to men who consumed much less.
However, the same link was not found among women.
Speaking in Science Daily, the study’s lead author, Lu Wang, explained: “We started out thinking that colorectal cancer could be the cancer most impacted by diet compared to other cancer types.
“Processed meats, most of which fall into the category of ultra-processed foods, are a strong risk factor for colorectal cancer.
“Ultra-processed foods are also high in added sugars and low in fibre, which contribute to weight gain and obesity, and obesity is an established risk factor for colorectal cancer.”
As part of the research dietary responses from more than 200,000 participants – 159,907 women and 46,341 men – were analysed over a period of 25 years.
Each person filled in a food questionnaire every four years which asked about the consumption of 130 different foods.
During this time period, 1,294 men and 1,922 women were diagnosed with bowel cancer.
The greatest link between the disease and ultra-processed foods among the male participants was found with animal products.
Mr Wang said: “These products include some processed meats like sausages, bacon, ham, and fish cakes. This is consistent with our hypothesis.”
High intake of sugary drinks such as fizzy drinks and fruit-based drinks was also associated with high risk of bowel cancer among the men, but not all processed foods were found to be as harmful.
Co-senior author Fang Fang Zhang added: “We found an inverse association between ultra-processed dairy foods like yoghurt and colorectal cancer risk among women.”
It was thought this could be one reason why women were less affected.
“Foods like yoghurt can potentially counteract the harmful impacts of other types of ultra-processed foods in women,” Mr Zhang said.
Overall, the researchers stressed the importance of cutting back on processed foods.
Mr Zhang said: “Much of the dependence on these foods can come down to factors like food access and convenience. “Chemically processing foods can aid in extending shelf life, but many processed foods are less healthy than unprocessed alternatives.
“We need to make consumers aware of the risks associated with consuming unhealthy foods in quantity and make the healthier options easier to choose instead.”
Source: Read Full Article