Newly published research in the peer reviewed medical journal JAMA Oncology found those who ate a pro-inflammatory diet were more likely to develop colon cancer than those eating an anti-inflammatory diet.
Researchers from Harvard who followed more than 126,000 health professionals over 26 years found that those with the highest intake of inflammatory foods had greater rates of colon cancer. Women who consumed pro-inflammatory diets were 22% more likely to develop colon cancer, while men consuming such diets were 44% more likely to develop colon cancer.
Body weight may also influence risk of cancer. Heavier body weights in men may help explain the doubled rates of colon cancer compared to women eating similar diets.
Researchers also took into consideration lifestyle factors such as physical activity and smoking. The diet effect was still strong. While other factors may be at play, researchers concluded dietary habits are a strong predictor of inflammation leading to colon cancer.
What is inflammation?
Inflammation literally means "setting on fire". Chronic inflammation is associated with many health problems faced by Americans. These problems include heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, arthritis, dementia, some depressive disorders, and some diseases of the stomach and intestines.
Why is this study important?
While we’ve known for a long time that dietary patterns high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are associated with lower rates of colon cancer, this study also identified specific groups of food associated with inflammation. Foods associated with the most inflammation and the highest rates of colon cancer were processed foods, added sugars, meats, and soda (with and without sugar).
What does this mean for me?
While you can’t change your past, you can change your now!
Here are a few things you can start doing today:
Add a vegetable (or two or three) to each meal.
Swap your white rice, bread, and pasta for whole grain versions.
Trade in your soda for water.
Cut your meat intake in half.
Satisfy your sweet craving with fruit-it’s nature’s candy!
Don’t worry about doing it all at once. Set specific goals and build from there.
It’s never too late to make your health your #1 priority!