Thursday, April 24, 2014

Diet and cancer: little evidence of a direct link

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For years, if not decades, we’ve been hearing that a diet high in fruits and vegetables and low in red meats and fats will prevent various forms of cancer. True? Well, not so much.

As described by George Johnson in his essay in the New York Times — aptly titled “An Apple a Day and Other Myths — the gap between science and wishful thinking is still present, and isn’t likely to close soon. Reporting on the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), Mr. Johnson noted the dearth of presentations linking dietary intake and cancer prevention. In 1997, by contrast, the AACR reviewed over 4,000 studies and concluded in a massive report that green vegetables helped prevent lung and stomach cancer. Ten years later, the AACR found no benefit for such intake.

What happened in the intervening decade? Mr. Johnson attributes the about-face to better epidemiologic studies. Earlier studies were generally retrospective in nature, relying on individual’s recollection of their diets over varying periods of time. Later studies were prospective — following people as they aged and obtaining more current dietary intake information. It is these latter studies that indicate that if, indeed, particular foods or types of foods have any impact on cancer causation or promotion, that effect is likely to be weak.....To Read More.....

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