Alcohol Ups Colorectal Cancer Risk: Family Matters

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The research showing that alcohol increases the risk of colorectal cancer is clear. But now a large new study suggests that people who have a family history of colorectal cancer may be especially susceptible to the effects of alcohol increasing their risk of the cancer.

The study was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and you can read the abstract here. (One of the authors, Harvard University researcher Edward Giovannucci, spoke at last year’s AICR Research Conference.)

In the study, researchers looked at alcohol consumption patterns among approximately 135,000 men and women, starting in 1980 (for the women) and 1986 (for the men). Every few years the participants answered questionnaires about how much alcohol they drank and reported whether they had been diagnosed with colon cancer.

After following the participants through 2006, the study first looked at the whole population. It found that those who drank the most alcohol — over 30 grams of alcohol per day on average, which is about 2 drinks – had an increased risk of colon cancer when compared to those who didn’t drink any alcohol. Read more… “Alcohol Ups Colorectal Cancer Risk: Family Matters”

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    A Healthy Southern New Year’s Tradition

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    Does your New Year’s Day meal contain any of these foods – black-eyed peas, cornbread, collard greens, ham or pork? If so, you’re following one of my favorite southern U.S. traditions. Although this meal is all about luck, wealth and prosperity for the coming year, you can add health and cancer prevention to that list.

    The black-eyed peas (represents coins and/or luck), collards (green for money), cornbread (for gold) and pork (for richness) are all nutrient powerhouses and can be prepared in delicious and healthful ways.

    Collard greens are members of the cruciferous vegetable family that have been widely studied for their cancer protective effects – read more in our updated entry in AICR’s Foods that Fight Cancer. And, we’ve got a Great Greens recipe that’s quick, easy and delicious.

    Read more… “A Healthy Southern New Year’s Tradition”

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      Are Hot Dogs as Bad as Cigarettes?

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      Citing the conclusions of WCRF/AICR’s expert report and its recent updates, the pro-vegan advocacy group called the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) has launched a pitched campaign to raise awareness that regular consumption of hot dogs and other processed meats increase risk of colorectal cancer.

      PCRM’s campaign is certainly arresting: A billboard ad that depicts hot dogs poking out of a cigarette pack has received a great deal of media attention.

      Although AICR is not affiliated with PCRM or this campaign, the ad’s claims are based on WCRF/AICR’s Continuous Update Project (CUP), which built and continuously maintains the world’s largest research database on diet, physical activity, weight and cancer. A CUP report on colon cancer risk was released earlier this year, which confirmed the recommendations of an independent, international 21-member expert panel convened by WCRF/AICR.

      Among those recommendations: Limit consumption of red meat to 18 ounces per week. But according to the expert panel: “The evidence on processed meat is even more clear-cut than that on red meat, and the data do not show any level of intake that can confidently be shown not to be associated with risk.” Processed meat includes hot dogs, bacon, sausage and lunchmeat.

      Specifically, the CUP report concluded that, if a person eats 3.5 ounces (the size of one jumbo hot dog) of processed meat every day, their risk of colorectal cancer will be 36% higher than someone who eats no processed meat. If they eat 7.0 ounces of processed meat every day (49 ounces per week), their risk will be 72% higher, and so on.

      That’s why we recommend saving processed meats for special occasions, such as a slice of ham at Easter or a hot dog at a ball game.

      But let’s put that extra risk in context.

      Take the example of a person eating one jumbo hot dog a day, every day. The fact that his risk for colorectal cancer is 36% higher than someone who doesn’t eat processed meat is a real cause for concern. But note that a 36% increase, while substantial, is not anywhere near the risk associated with cigarette smoking.

      Smoking doesn’t simply increase risk for lung cancer, but multiplies a person’s risk by as much as 20 times, according to the CDC.

      The increased risk associated with diets high in processed meat is much, much smaller than that. Even a person who eats 7 ounces, day in and day out, increases his risk by 72% — in other words, his risk doesn’t even double, let alone multiply by a factor of 20.

      Here’s the bottom line:  An occasional hot dog will not cause colon cancer. What the evidence does show, however, is that making processed meats an everyday part of the diet, as many Americans do, poses clear and serious risks. That is why AICR continues to recommend avoiding processed meats.

      And that’s also why finding convenient, healthful alternatives to hot dogs, bologna and other school lunch staples is so important.

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