Oranges and Bananas May Reduce Childhood Leukemia Risk
Little has been known about diet’s influence on childhood leukemia, but a new study shows that certain fruits may reduce risk of the disease. Researchers at the University of California–Berkeley reviewed the diets of 328 children with leukemia and 328 matched controls. After adjusting for various lifestyle and dietary factors, the researchers found that the consumption of oranges, bananas, or orange juice at least four to six days per week during the first two years of life was associated with a significantly reduced risk of leukemia for 2- through 14-year-olds. Oranges are packed with vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that may prevent oxidative damage to DNA and the initiation of carcinogenesis. Bananas and oranges are also rich in potassium, which epidemiologists believe may have anticarcinogenic properties. Vitamin C has also been shown to increase intracellular potassium intake.
Kwan ML, Block G, Selvin S, et al. Food consumption by children and the risk of childhood acute leukemia. Am J Epidemiol. 2004;160:1098-107.
Link between Meat and Colon Cancer Grows Stronger
The less red and processed meat people eat, the lower their risk of colon cancer, according to a major new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. In the Cancer Prevention Study II Nutrition Cohort, involving 148,610 adults followed since 1982, the group with the highest meat intake had an approximately 50 percent higher colon cancer risk compared to those with lower intakes. Although previous studies have shown the same association, the large study population and the long duration of the study provide compelling evidence of the link between meat and colorectal cancer.
Chao A, Thun MJ, Connell CJ, et al. Meat consumption and risk of colorectal cancer. JAMA. 2005;293:172-82.
Avocados Fight Prostate Cancer
In a new test-tube study, avocado extract inhibited prostate cancer cell growth by up to 60 percent. Researchers at the University of California–Los Angeles compared the effects of whole avocado extract with those of lutein, one of the carotenoids found in avocados, to see if avocado’s benefits were simply due to lutein. While whole avocado had a significant effect, lutein alone had virtually none. It is not yet clear whether avocado’s apparent effects are due to monounsaturated fat, vitamin E, or other nutrients working alone or in combination.
Lu QY, Arteaga JR, Zhang Q, et al. Inhibition of prostate cancer cell growth by an avocado extract: role of lipid-soluble bioactive substances. J Nutr Biochem. 2005;16:23-30.
Animal Products Increase Ovarian Cancer Risk
Consumption of animal products was associated with a significant increase in ovarian cancer risk in a new Canadian study of more than 2,500 women. The researchers found that women with the highest intake of cholesterol (found only in animal products) had a 40 percent higher risk of ovarian cancer than women with the lowest cholesterol consumption. They also found that women with the highest egg consumption had a 30 percent increased risk of the disease. In contrast, women with the highest total vegetable and cruciferous vegetable intake lowered their ovarian cancer risk by nearly 25 percent.
Pan SY, Ugnat AM, Mao Y, et al. A case-control study of diet and the risk of ovarian cancer. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers. 2004;13:1521-7.