Study links preventable cancers with different types of poor diets

Poor diets are widely associated with the development of certain cancers, including the excessive consumption of processed meats and sugary drinks. A new study breaks down different diets and sheds light on which cancers they're most commonly associated with, such as a higher link to mouth cancer in people who don't eat enough fruit and vegetables.

The study comes from the Health Sciences Campus at Tufts University, where researchers looked at preventable cancers and their association with different types of poor diets, as well as under and overeating and excessive body weight. The team found that poor diets may have been behind around 5.2-percent of new invasive cancer cases in adults in 2015.

In comparison, alcohol drives between 4- and 6-percent of cases; excessive body weight drives 7- to 8-percent of cases, and low physical activity is behind 2- to 3-percent of new cancer cases. As with things like alcohol consumption and activity levels, food intake is relatively easy to modify and may help prevent otherwise difficult and burdensome cancer cases.

What type of diets may be driving preventable cancers? When looking at 'suboptimal diets,' the study found that colorectal cancer had the greatest association at 38.3-percent of preventable diet-related cancer cases in 2015. Cancer of the mouth, pharynx, and larynx followed colorectal cancer at a lower 25.9-percent of cases.

Researchers found that low whole grain consumption had the greatest association with new cancer cases, with other dietary factors including low dairy consumption, eating large quantities of processed meats, too few fruits and vegetables, high quantities of red meat, and a large number of sugary beverages.

Breaking down different types of cancers, the study found that colorectal cancer linked to poor diet came in first spot at 52,225 cases, followed by mouth, pharynx, and larynx cancer cases at 14,421 cases, uterine cancer at 3,165, post-menopausal breast cancer at 3,059, kidney cancer at 2,017, stomach cancer at 1,564, and liver cancer at 1,000 cases.

Based on the data behind the study, the team found that diet-fueled colorectal cancer was most associated with diets low in whole grains and dairy, and high in processed and red meats. In comparison, mouth, pharynx, and larynx cancer was most associated with low fruit and vegetable intake, and stomach cancer was linked to eating large amounts of processed meat.