Diet a Factor in One and Three Cancers

During a  European Conference on Nutrition and Cancer in Lyon, France, in June, 2001, numerous studies under the heading European Prospective Investigation into Cancer (EPIC) were presented. EPIC linked dietary factors and lack of exercise to an increased risk of cancer and supported the long-held belief that some food could increase the risk of cancer, while other foods have a protective effect. An epidemiological study of the diets of more than 500,000 people from 10 European countries, EPIC has confirmed once again that eating vegetables and fruits can lower the risk of cancer.(1) However, the same study raised questions about the role of fats and animal products in cancer prevention.
Unquestionably, all vegetables and fruits supply the phytochemicals and antioxidants that are protective for all diseases, especially cancer. However, gram for gram, vegetables yield a much higher antioxidant score than fruits do, without the high sugar content (glycemic load) of most fruits. Glycemic load is the amount of carbohydrate in a food that raises the blood glucose at a rapid rate, provoking an excessive insulin response. Previous research has also shown that a high glycemic load presents risk factors for obesity, which is in itself another risk factor for cancer.(2) Several abstracts presented at this meeting also identified insulin, insulin-like growth factors and carbohydrates as risk factors.(3,4,)
The Atkins Nutritional Approach TM recommends lots of vegetables, but suggests fruit should be eaten in moderation. Based on a Tufts University food analysis of the antioxidant capacity of a variety of vegetables and fruits, Dr. Atkins compiled a scoring system in his Age-Defying Diet Revolution that makes it easy to determine which vegetables and fruits are highest in antioxidants and lowest in carbohydrates. Garlic, kale, onion, spinach, broccoli, blueberries and other berries score the highest.
Other research presented at the Lyon conference showed that fiber is beneficial for reducing the risk of colon cancer and could cut digestive tract cancer by 10 to 50 percent.(5) Those on the Induction phase of Atkins are encouraged to consume several cups of vegetables. In addition they can supplement their diet with psyllium husks or bran to get additional beneficial effects without consuming excessive carbohydrates. In the other three Atkins phases increased amounts of vegetables, along with seeds, nuts, whole grains and other plant-based foods high in fiber satisfy fiber needs.
Preliminary results of EPIC have also raised questions about the long-held belief that eating red meat or other animal-based foods can increase the risk of cancer. The new data do not strongly support the red meat theory, although one study distinguished between processed and fresh meat, suggesting that meat processed with nitrates, rather than fresh meat, may be the culprit.(6)
The conference presented many thought-provoking findings that will challenge the long-held misconceptions about fats, animal products and the excessive consumption of sugar and refined carbohydrates. Such ongoing research continues to build the scientific underpinnings of the healthy lifestyle embodied in the Atkins Nutritional ApproachTM.
Selected References
1.    Bingham, S., Day, N.E., Luben, R., et al., "Plant Polysaccharides, Meat and Colorectal Cancer,"  June 21-24, 2001, Abstract for the European Conference on Nutrition and Cancer, International Agency for Research on Cancer and Europe Against Cancer Programme of the European Commission, Abstract # 0.2, Lyon, France.
2.    Liu, S., Manson, J.E., Stampfer, M.J., et al., "Dietary Glycemic Load Assessed by Food-Frequency Questionnaire in Relation to Plasma High-Density-Lipoprotein Cholesterol and Fasting Plasma Triacylglycerols in Postmenopausal Women," American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 73(3), 2001, pages 560-566.
3.    Kaaks, R., "Nutrition and Colorectal Cancer Risk: The Role of Insulin and Insulin-Like Growth Factor-l," June 21-24, 2001, Abstract of the European Conference on Nutrition and Cancer, International Agency for Research on Cancer and Europe Against Cancer Programme of the European Commission,  Abstract #0.14, Lyon, France.
4.    Berrino,  F., Bellati, C., Oldani, S., et al., "DIANA Trial on Diet and Endogenous Hormones," June 21-24, 2001, Abstract of the European Conference on Nutrition and Cancer, International Agency for Research on Cancer and Europe Against Cancer Programme of the European Commission,  Abstract #0.27, Lyon, France.
5.    Riboli, E., Rorat, T., "Estimation of the Proportion of Cancers Preventable by Dietary Changes,"June 21-24, 2001, Abstract of the European Conference on Nutrition and Cancer, International Agency for Research on Cancer and Europe Against Cancer Programme of the European Commission,  Abstract #0.33, Lyon, France.
6.    Riboli, E., "Meat, Processed Meat and Colorectal Cancer," June 21-24, 2001, Abstract of the European Conference on Nutrition and Cancer, International Agency for Research on Cancer and Europe Against Cancer Programme of the European Commission,  Abstract #0.08, Lyon, France.



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