Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Colorectal Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Red Meat + Fats + Pasta = Colon Cancer

Higher Cancer Risk in Women Eating Western Diet
WebMD Health News

Feb. 10, 2003 -- The typical Western diet means more colon cancer for women, a powerful new study shows.

The huge study of 76,402 women didn't try to keep them on any specific diet plan. Researcher Teresa Fung, ScD, and her Simmons College/Harvard University team just kept track of what they ate. They checked on the women, originally aged 38 to 63 years, in 1984, 1986, 1990, and 1994.

The women's eating habits fell into two patterns. One -- dubbed the "Western pattern" -- included:

  • Refined grains. These include white pasta, white breads, and white rice -- all made from grains that have had their bran shells removed.
  • Red meats
  • Processed meats
  • Desserts
  • High-fat dairy products
  • French fries

The "prudent" pattern included:

  • Lots of fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains
  • Legumes (beans and peas)
  • Poultry
  • Fish

By the end of the study period, 445 of the women developed colon cancer. Women who ate the most Western foods had 50% more colon cancers than the women who ate the least Western foods. Women who ate the most "prudent" foods tended to have less colon cancer than those who ate the least, but this trend was not statistically significant.

"Our study provides further evidence that switching from a typical Western diet to a more prudent diet may reduce the risk of colon cancer," Fung and colleagues write.

The study appears in the Feb. 10 issue of The Archives of Internal Medicine.

SOURCE: The Archives of Internal Medicine, Feb. 10, 2003.

Today on WebMD

Colorectal cancer cells
The right diagnosis is the most important factor.
man with a doctor
Our health check will steer you in the right direction.
sauteed cherry tomatoes
Fight cancer one plate at a time.
bladder cancer x-ray
Do you know the warning signs?
Colon vs Rectal Cancer
New Colorectal Treatments
can lack of sleep affect your immune system
Cancer Facts Quiz
Virtual Colonoscopy
Picture of the Colon
Vitamin D