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Colorectal Cancer Rates Rising
fresh produceColorectal cancer is becoming steadily more common among young adults, according to an American Cancer Society analysis. Incidence rates among adults ages 20 to 49 increased 1.5 percent per year in men and 1.6 percent per year in women from 1992 to 2005. The increase may be tied to rising rates of obesity, a major risk factor for colorectal cancer. Increased consumption of meat (especially in fast food) over the past three decades could also be a key factor. Previous studies have suggested that diets free of red and processed meats and rich in plant-based foods may significantly reduce colorectal cancer risk. 

Siegel RL, Jemal A, Ward EM. Increase in incidence of colorectal cancer among young men and women in the United States. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2009;18:1695-1698.

Soy Foods Offer Breast Cancer Protection
Soy foods provide protection against premenopausal breast cancer when they are consumed during adolescence and perhaps even as an adult, according to new findings from the Shanghai Women’s Health Study. Researchers assessed the diets of more than 73,000 Chinese women during adulthood and adolescence. Those with the highest intake of soy protein or isoflavone had about half the risk of premenopausal breast cancer compared with those with the lowest soy intake, regardless of age at time of consumption. The study found no significant association between soy foods and the risk of postmenopausal breast cancer.

Lee S, Shu X, Li H, et al. Adolescent and adult soy food intake and breast cancer risk: results from the Shanghai Women’s Health Study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009;89:1920-1926.

Vegetarians Less Prone to Cancer
Vegetarians are 12 percent less likely to develop cancer, compared with meat eaters, according to a recent study in the British Journal of Cancer. After following 61,000 meat eaters and vegetarians for more than 12 years, researchers also discovered that rates of cancers of the blood—such as leukemia, multiple myeloma, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma—were reduced by as much as 45 percent among those following a vegetarian diet. Previous studies have shown that vegetarians have as much as a 40 percent reduced risk for all cancers.

Key TJ, Appleby PN, Spencer EA, et al. Cancer incidence in British vegetarians. British Journal of Cancer. 2009;101:192-197.

Red Meat and Dairy Products Increase Pancreatic Cancer Risk
Fat from red meat and dairy products is associated with an increased risk of pancreatic cancer, a new study finds. As part of the National Institutes of Health-AARP Diet and Health Study, researchers analyzed the diets of more than 525,000 participants to determine whether there is an association between dietary fat and pancreatic cancer. This same study found no association between fats from plant foods and pancreatic cancer risk.

Thiébaut ACM, Jia L, Silverman DT, et al. Dietary fatty acids and pancreatic cancer in the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2009;101:1001-1011.

The Cancer ProjectThe Cancer Project is a nonprofit PCRM subsidiary that advances cancer prevention and survival through nutrition education and research.

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