Diet (nutrition)

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Diet & bowel cancer risk in Lynch syndrome

coverAnalysis from a recent study has found that loading up on snack foods may increase cancer risk in individuals with an inborn susceptibility to colorectal and other cancers. Published early online in Cancer, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, the study suggests that an eating pattern low in snack foods could help these individuals — who have a condition called Lynch syndrome — lower their risk.

Lynch syndrome is an inherited condition characterized by a high risk of developing colorectal cancer, endometrial cancer, and other cancers at an early age. The syndrome is caused by mutations in genes involved with repairing DNA within cells.

Numerous studies have investigated associations between certain foods and colorectal cancer, and now there is general agreement that red and processed meats and alcohol consumption can increase individuals’ risk. Only a few studies have evaluated lifestyle factors and colorectal cancer in patients with Lynch syndrome, though. To investigate, Akke Botma, PhD, MSc, of the Wageningen University in the Netherlands, and her colleagues collected dietary information from 486 individuals with Lynch syndrome. During an average follow-up of 20 months, colorectal polyps (precancerous lesions) were detected in 58 people in the study.

“We saw that Lynch syndrome patients who had an eating pattern with higher intakes of snack foods — like fast food snacks, chips, or fried snacks — were twice as likely to develop these polyps as Lynch syndrome patients having a pattern with lower intakes of snack foods,” said Dr. Botma.

The findings suggest that certain dietary patterns have an influence on the development of polyps in individuals with Lynch syndrome. “Unfortunately, this does not mean that eating a diet low in snack foods will prevent any polyps from developing, but it might mean that those Lynch syndrome patients who eat a lot of snack foods might have more polyps than if they ate less snack foods,” said Dr. Botma. Because the study is observational, other studies are needed to confirm the results.

Previous work from the group revealed that smoking and obesity may also increase the risk of developing colorectal polyps among individuals with Lynch Syndrome. Thus, even though they may have inherited a very high risk of developing cancer, it may be possible to affect this risk by adopting a healthy lifestyle, including a healthy diet.

Akke Botma, Hans F. A. Vasen, Fränzel J. B. van Duijnhoven, Jan H. Kleibeuker, Fokko M. Nagengast and Ellen Kampman. Dietary patterns and colorectal adenomas in Lynch syndrome : The GEOLynch Cohort Study. Cancer, 2012; DOI: 10.1002/cncr.27726

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Using food as medicine: The fibre challenge from Channel 4’s food hospital


The Fibre Challenge

If there’s one thing most of us don’t like talking about, it’s our bowel movements. However, your stools (that’s poo to you and me) can be a clear indicator of how healthy your insides are, particularly problems with your digestive system. Many of us are too embarrassed to talk about discomfort of going to the toilet. But even short-term problems can indicate longer-term health risks that can go undiagnosed if you don’t do anything about them.
The Food Hospital Fibre Challenge aims to tackle the toilet taboo and encourage people to make simple changes in their diet that could have significant benefits to their bowel and overall health.
Find out more about our approach.

Fresh vegetables are important components of a...

Fresh vegetables are important components of a healthy diet. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Take the Fibre Challenge

The Fibre Challenge has been devised by specialist dietitians and is a mass participation initiative to assess the effect of fibre on the nation’s bowel health. For 21 days, you’ll eat extra dietary fibre and send information about your bowel movements (anonymously) to our expert team for analysis. The results will help us to better understand whether a high fibre diet significantly improves short-term bowel health and general well-being. There are some people who shouldn’t take part for health reasons, but the rest of you can download the app, check out the assortment of fibre foods to add to your diet, print-out our stool chart and monitor the effects of eating extra fibre over the next few weeks. Find out more about the challenge.


Halving red meat consumption would slash heart disease and bowel cancer… and cut our carbon footprint!


BMJ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cutting back on the amount of red meat people eat would reduce the risk of chronic disease and also slash Britain’s carbon footprint, according to a study published in the BMJ.

Reducing red and processed meat consumption would not only prompt a fall in chronic disease incidence of between three per cent and 12 per cent in the UK, but our carbon footprint would shrink by 28 million tonnes a year, researchers said.

Food and drink account for a third of all greenhouse gas emissions attributable to British consumers, with livestock farming accounting for around half of the proportion, owing to the large quantity of cereals and soy imported for animal feed.

Even when imported foods are taken out of the equation, the Government’s 2050 target for an 80 per cent cut in the UK’s carbon footprint will be ‘unattainable’ without a substantial reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from livestock farming, say the researchers, citing the Committee on Climate Change.

Previously published evidence shows that the risks of coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and bowel cancer rise by 42 per cent, 19 per cent, and 18 per cent respectively, with every additional 50 grams of red and processed meat eaten daily.

The researchers used responses to the 2000-2001 British National Diet and Nutrition Survey to estimate red and processed meat intake across the UK population and published data from life cycle analyses to quantify average greenhouse gas emissions for 45 different food categories.

They then devised a feasible ‘counter-factual’ alternative, based on a doubling of the proportion of survey respondents who said they were vegetarian – to 4.7 per cent of men and 12.3 per cent of women – and the remainder adopting the same diet as those in the bottom fifth of red and processed meat consumption.

Those in the top fifth of consumption ate 2.5 times as much as those in the bottom fifth, the survey responses showed.

Therefore, adopting the diet of those eating the least red and processed meat would mean cutting average consumption from 91g to 53g a day for men, and from 54g to 30g for women.

The calculations showed that this would significantly cut the risk of coronary artery disease, diabetes, and bowel cancer by between three per cent and 12 per cent across the population as a whole.

And this reduction in risk would be more than twice as much as the population averages for those at the top end of consumption who moved to the bottom end.

The expected reduction in greenhouse gas emissions would amount to 0.45 tonnes per person per year, or just short of 28million tonnes of the equivalent of CO2 a year.

The researchers acknowledge that their data, published in the online journal BMJ Open, is a decade old, but the most recent nutrition survey (2008/9) indicates broadly similar and even slightly higher figures for red and processed meat consumption.

Dr Louise Aston, of the Institute of Public Health at the University of Cambridge, said: ‘This indicates that our estimates remain relevant and may even be conservative, highlighting the need for action to prevent further increases in intake in the UK population.’

Se below

Se below (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

She said while it may be harder for people to understand the direct impact that climate change has on them, it is much easier to understand the impact on their health.

Dr Aston added: ‘Health benefits provide near term rewards to individuals for climate friendly changes and may thus “nudge” humanity towards a sustainable future.

‘Dietary recommendations should no longer be based on direct health effects alone.’
Read more:–cut-carbon-footprint.html#ixzz26cZH4CzR

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