Chronic inflammation has been linked to a number of potential long-term health issues, including autoimmune problems and the development of cancer. Diet plays an important role in inflammation response with foods like red meat and refined sugar being major pro-inflammatory sources in diets. A new study warns that eating an inflammatory diet doubles the risk of developing one of the most common cancers in the world.
The study comes from researchers with multiple institutions in Spain, where they investigated the effect of eating an inflammatory diet on cancer risk. In this case, the scientists considered a diet to be ‘inflammatory’ if it contained red meats, processed meats, refined carbohydrates, trans fats, and/or saturated fats.
The team found that eating this type of diet had a profound effect on breast and colorectal cancer risk, particularly the latter, which was found to have double the risk in these individuals. Globally, colorectal cancer is the fourth most common cancer, falling behind breast, prostate, and lung cancer, though the exact order depends on the source.
The risk of a pro-inflammatory diet wasn’t as significant on breast cancer, according to the researchers, though evidence remains that chronic inflammation can influence the development of the cancer. However, and quite fortunately, individuals at risk can modify their diets to remove these pro-inflammatory foods and replace them with healthy, beneficial alternatives.
The researchers suggest that the Mediterranean diet, which has been associated with positive health effects in a number of past studies, is a better alternative to these unhealthy foods. This type of diet incorporates vegetables, fruits, nuts, healthy oils, and whole grains, as well as fish; red meat is often excluded or only consumed in very low quantities on this diet.