Lots of news stories this week about diet and cancer prevention as well the prevention of diabetes.
First, in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, there is a paper presenting evidence that postmenopausal women who eat a diet high in plants, especially those rich in lignans have a lower chance of developing hormone receptor positive breast cancers. Lignan is a type of phytochemical found in many plant foods such as seeds, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Specifically in this study it was found that in over 50,000 postmenopausal French women whose diet had the highest amount of lignans had a 17% lower chance of developing breast cancer.
Another paper in the same journal shows that postmenopausal women eating a high-fat diet have an increased risk of developing invasive breast cancer. Diet information was collected in over 150,000 women and it was found that those who got 40% of their calories from fat had a 15 to 32% greater chance of getting breast cancer compared to those with only 20% of their calories coming from fat.
The International Journal of Cancer reports that women in their study who got most of their fat and protein calories from animal products, rather than plants, had a greater chance of getting endometrial cancer. And in the Journal of Nutrition researchers show that people who eat a lot of fruit and little meat have a much lower chance of having polyps which could develop into colon cancer. Out of 700 something people studied those who ate lots of meat were 70 percent more likely to have had a polyp.
And far as type 2 diabetes goes, in the American Journal of Epidemiology there is a paper by Allison Hodge of the University of Melbourne, Australia showing that people who eat more salad and cooked vegetables and less meat and other fatty foods have a much lower chance of developing the disease. Other recent research (American Journal of Public Health) shows a positive correlation between diets high in soft drinks and a risk for diabetes.
All this right after a report from the CDC indicating that most Americans are not eating anywhere near enough fruits and vegetables, putting them at a much greater risk of heart disease, cancer, etc. Apparently only a third of Americans eat anywhere near the recommended amounts.
Of course, most all of this data is derived from self-reports of what people eat which is unlikely to be completely accurate. Nevertheless it seems there is more than enough data pointing in the direction that more fruit and vegetables and less fat in the diet helps people stay healthier.
So why don’t more people eat better? I would love to know a way to do a real survey and find out the causes – what percent of people don’t know any better, which don’t care, can’t afford to eat better, how many are too stressed and busy to take the time, etc. Any one know how to have a scientifically accurate survey done? I’m guessing it would be too expensive for most people, like myself, to do it though.
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