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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.

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