Eating lots of chips, cakes, desserts and sugary drinks is a risk factor for colorectal cancer, according to a new study.
Researchers from the University of Edinburgh found an association between higher risk of the cancer and eating "high-energy snack foods" (meaning snack foods high in sugar and fat) and high-energy drinks (including sodas and other sugary beverages). Their findings are published in the European Journal of Cancer Prevention.
The study is based on data from 2,062 colorectal cancer patients and 2,776 controls from Scotland, between ages 16 and 79. The patients all visited a surgical unit in Scotland sometime between 1999 and 2006. Researchers had all the study participants complete questionnaires about their lifestyle habits, including what kinds of foods they ate and how frequently they ate them.
The researchers confirmed known risk factors for colorectal cancer, such as smoking and having a family history of cancer. But they also found links between risk and diet, with fat- and sugar-filled snack foods, such as desserts, biscuits and cakes, having an association with higher colorectal cancer risk.
"The finding of a positive association between the intake of 'high-energy snack foods' and CRC [colorectal cancer] is novel and remains significant after physical activity or BMI stratification," the researchers wrote in the study.
Fruit and vegetables juices also were associated with higher colorectal cancer risk, which researchers said could be "because fruit and vegetable juices have different properties compared with the whole fruit or vegetable they come from, as the majority of them contain sugars, preservatives and other additives."
Researchers said the new finding falls into line with past studies on diet and colorectal cancer risk, which showed that a healthy diet with lots of produce is linked with lower cancer risk.
Last year, a review of studies published in the American Journal of Medicine showed that frequent fish-eaters had a 12 percent lower risk of colorectal cancer compared with infrequent fish-eaters.
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