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.
The most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend the Mediterranean Diet as one way to eat healthfully. Yet pasta, a common food in this diet, is often seen as packing on the pounds. So scientists in Italy wanted to see if they could tease apart how pasta, as part of the Mediterranean diet, may affect a person’s weight and body shape.
That’s important for cancer risk, because understanding how the food you and your family eat every day affects weight is one important key to lower risk. AICR’s evidence shows that having too much body fat links to higher risk for eleven types of cancer, including colorectal, liver and postmenopausal breast.
Last week, a lot of headlines featured news about an analysis that found eating the healthiest of diets costs more per day – about $1.50 more – than the least healthy diet.
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The analysis of research was published in BMJ Open and it’s important information for cancer prevention. Eating a diet with plenty of fiber, fruits, vegetables and other healthful foods plays a role in cancer risk and weight. A healthy diet and a healthy weight could prevent approximately 120,000 US cancers each year.
Doing the math, eating the healthiest diets on average cost about $550 more a year than the least healthy. That’s a barrier for many, as the authors point out.