Chowing down on sugary drinks, white bread and red meat might increase your risk of colon cancer in the long term. This is according to a new study published in the journal JAMA Oncology.
These foods trigger inflammation in your body, and the inflammation that they cause is linked to a higher risk of developing colon cancer, the study showed. Keep reading for the full findings.
Harvard study links white bread and red meat to an increased risk of colon cancer
The study was conducted by researchers from the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health in Boston in the United States. To reach their findings, they gathered data on more than 121,000 people from two studies – the Health Professionals Follow-up Study and the Nurses’ Health Study – in which people were followed for 25 years to track potential influences on their health.
The participants completed food questionnaires every four years, which helped the researchers determine a dietary inflammation ‘score’ for each person. During the follow-up period, 2,699 of the participants developed colorectal cancer
. The researchers compared the foods these people ate against the diet of people who didn’t develop colon or rectal cancer
What the researchers found was interesting: Participants who ate the most inflammatory foods were 37% more likely to develop colon cancer
and 70% more likely to develop rectal cancer, compared with those who had the lowest inflammation diet score.
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Sugary drinks and red meat were among the foods linked to colon cancer-related inflammation
The researchers associated the following foods with the most colon cancer-related inflammation: Soft drinks, refined flour, processed meats, red meat and organ meat. On the other hand, they found that leafy green vegetables, dark yellow vegetables, whole grains, fruit juice and coffee appeared to reduce inflammation.
There were some odd findings, as well. For example, the researchers found that pizza reduced inflammation even though it’s made up of individual ingredients that are linked to inflammation. At the same time, tomatoes cropped up as a cause of inflammation.
According to Dr Edward Giovannucci, senior researchers of the study and professor of nutrition and epidemiology, the takeaway is that what makes for a healthy diet
overall also appears to protect against colon cancer.