Fat-laden and sugary snacks and beverages — including cookies, cakes, and soda — have been tied to a significantly increased risk of bowel cancer, in a new Scottish study published in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention
The research, by medical investigators from the University of Edinburgh, tracked the dietary habits of nearly 5,000 Scottish residents —half of whom had bowel cancer — and examined more than 170 foods, including fruit, vegetables, fish, meat, chocolates, nuts, chips, and sweetened drinks.
The study findings confirmed associations between colorectal cancer and such well-established risk factors as family history, physical inactivity, and smoking. But they also identified new factors, including high intake of high-fat snacks and sugar-sweetened drinks.
Compared to individuals eating lots of fruit, vegetables, and other healthy foods, individuals consuming diets heavy on meat, fat, and sugar were far more likely to develop cancer.
"What we have found is very interesting and it merits further investigation using large population studies," said Evropi Theodoratou, M.D., who helped conduct the study.
"While the positive associations between a diet high in sugar and fat and colorectal cancer do not automatically imply 'cause and effect', it is important to take on board what we've found — especially as people in industrialized countries are consuming more of these foods."
Bowel cancer accounts for nearly 10 percent of all cancer cases and 8 percent of cancer-related deaths.
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