Dietary Cholesterol Associated with Increased Cancer Risk

A study published in Annals of Oncology found that dietary cholesterol (found only in animal-based foods, like meat and dairy products) was associated with an increased risk of cancer.

Researchers at the Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention and Control, Public Health Agency of Canada mailed questionnaires to thousands of men and women with various types of cancers and controls without cancer, asking about their eating habits two years prior to the study to evaluate the amount of cholesterol they consumed.

The researchers found that cholesterol intake was associated with elevated risk of breast cancer(specifically postmenopausal women), and cancers of the stomach, colon, rectum, pancreas, lung, breast cancer , testis, kidney, bladder and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. People who had the highest intake of cholesterol were 40 to 70 percent more likely to develop these cancers as compared to people with the lowest consumption of cholesterol.

The authors write, “Our findings add to the evidence that high cholesterol intake is linked to increased risk of various cancers. A diet low in cholesterol may play a role in the prevention of several cancers.”

Study Suggests Folic Acid-Rich Foods Can Increase Breast Cancer Survival Odds

A study recently published in Breast Cancer Research and Treatment suggests that eating foods rich with folic acid– such as spinach, asparagus, lentils, garbanzo beans, orange juice and lima beans– can help reduce risk of death from breast cancer and increase the odds of survival.

The study, which was  led by Holly R. Harris of the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, showed that women whose intake of dietary folic acid or commonly known as folate in the highest quartile were 22  percent less likely to die from breast cancer five years post-diagnosis   compared to those whose intake was in the lowest quartile.

The researchers speculated that folate may have an effect on the development and progression of breast cancer through its role in one-carbon metabolism. The study was intended to reveal whether folate intake was correlated with survival in 3116 women diagnosed with breast cancer enrolled in the Swedish Mammography Cohort.

The researchers found dietary folate intake was inversely associated with breast cancer and overall mortality. The protective effect was found strongest among those whose breast   cancers were ER-negative, that is, the highest intake of folate was correlated with 58 percent reduced risk of death from the disease.

The researchers stated, “Our findings suggest that folate intake before breast cancer diagnosis may improve breast cancer and overall survival. However, these results may be limited to populations with low intake of folate.”

Click here to read the published research paper.

Weight Loss May Reduce Cancer Risk

Results from a new study published online today in Cancer Research suggest that moderate weight loss in postmenopausal women reduces biomarkers of inflammation that have been tied to certain cancers. The study results have potential significance for cancer prevention.

The findings showed that older women who lost at least 5 percent of their body weight through diet alone or diet plus exercise had significant reductions in key inflammatory biomarkers such as C-reactive protein and interleukin-6. Elevated levels of these biomarkers are associated not only with increased risk for heart disease but also increased risk for several cancers, including breast, colon, lung and endometrial cancer.

In the study, women were randomized to either a calorie-restricted diet arm, a moderate-to vigorous-aerobic exercise arm, or a diet plus exercise arm. The results showed that C-reactive protein levels went down by about 36 percent in the diet-alone group and by 42 percent in the diet and exercise group. Interleukin-6 levels decreased by about 23 percent in the diet group and 24 percent in the diet and exercise group, the study showed. There were greater reductions in these levels seen among women who lost at least 5 percent of their body weight. Exercise alone did not affect levels of inflammation markers.

Approximately 25% of cancers are due to overweight or obesity and a sedentary lifestyle, risk factors that are particularly common in older women.  Researchers hypothesize that inflammation resulting from being overweight is related to the increased risk for developing cancer.

The authors state, “this study found that a 12-month caloric restriction weight loss diet intervention, with or without exercise, produced large, significant reductions in several biomarkers of inflammation…These results suggest that modest amounts of weight loss can have large beneficial effects on clinically relevant inflammatory biomarkers, which could impact risk reduction of several cancers in overweight or obese, postmenopausal women.”

Click here to read the published article.