Poor Diet Linked to 80,000 Cancer Cases in the United States
As many as 80,000 new cases of cancer reported in 2015 may have been diet related, according to results from a new study.
Colorectal cancer had the highest proportion of diet-related cases, with 38.3% of all cases associated with suboptimal diets. This was followed by cancer of the mouth, pharynx, and larynx, with almost 26% of cases linked to diet.
The highest cancer burden was associated with an insufficient consumption of whole grains and excess intake of processed meats. Middle-aged men and racial/ethnic minorities experienced the largest proportion of diet-associated cancer burden.
Dietary-linked cancers are comparable to those associated with alcohol intake, which are estimated to be 4% to 6% of all cancers, note the authors. Also, excessive body weight is associated with 7% to 8% percent of the cancer burden, and physical inactivity with 2% to 3%.
“Our study findings lend further support to the growing evidence by estimating the cancer burden associated with suboptimal diet at the national level,” said lead author Fang Fang Zhang, MD, PhD, associate professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, Boston, Massachusetts. “It underscores the opportunity to reduce cancer burden and disparities in the US by improving food intake.”
She noted that these results reinforce the importance of addressing unhealthy diet at the population-level and evaluating the cost effectiveness of broad nutrition policies on reducing cancer burden and disparities in the US.
“These may include system-level changes in healthcare such as nutrition counseling and healthy food incentives being incorporated into healthcare, as well as nationwide food price policies, food labeling policies, nationwide educational campaign on healthy eating, and setting up nutrition standards for government food procurement, school meals, and restaurant meals,” Zhang told Medscape Medical News.