If you’re like the average American, more than half of your diet is filled with processed foods. Many of these foods are full of added sugar and fat and contribute to overweight and obesity. This matters for cancer prevention, because obesity is linked to higher risk, and a healthy diet links to lower risk for many common cancers, as well as other chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Do high-fat diets lead to cancer? Not necessarily. That’s a common concern though: The most recent AICR awareness survey shows that more than 4 in 10 people think that high-fat diets can be a cause of cancer. However, whether your diet is higher or lower in fat, it’s your overall eating choices that matter to reduce your risk of cancer.
Early research on diet and cancer risk did suggest a link to fat consumption, since countries with low fat intake (for example, Japan) had lower rates of cancer than countries (like the U.S.) with higher-fat diets. After further study, when scientists followed people over time and adjusted for other eating and lifestyle choices, differences in cancer risk no longer seemed related to fat consumption.
There’s been a lot of news about taxing sugar-sweetened beverages as one way to improve people’s health and raise revenue that could be used for anti-obesity initiatives or other community programs. While controversial, many public health experts think this could be one way to encourage people to consume fewer sugary drinks and therefore help curb obesity in kids and adults.