High-fat diets linked to cancer of breast, bowel

April 17, 1991|By Carleton Jones

Here are two observations on diet and health by specialists in preventive medicine:

*"For about 20 years, dietary fat has been suspected as a causal factor in two very common cancers: bowel and breast. The suspicion has been based in part on the observation that these cancers are most common in developed countries, where dietary fat intake is very high. Also in animal experiments, high-fat diets have favored the development of these cancers." At the same time there is evidence that the vitamin A group (carotenoids) may be beneficial.

"These are found in dark green and yellow vegetables, such as broccoli, romaine lettuce, squash and carrots, as well as fruits such as apricots and cantaloupe. A good deal of laboratory research has shown that animals deficient in carotenoids are more susceptible to cancer, whereas those with a high level are protected."

Drs. William Bennett, Stephen Goldfinger and Timothy Johnson in "Your Good Health" (Harvard University Press, 1987, $12.95).

*"In dozens of countries . . the per-capita rates of breast, colon and prostate cancers are directly proportional to dietary animal fat intake. American blacks, who eat much more animal fat than Africans, have two or three times the rate of these cancers. Japanese who move to Hawaii where they eat more meat develop more of these cancers.

"Seventh Day Adventists in the United States eat much less meat than average Americans and have much lower than average rates of these and other cancers. Those who are strict vegetarians have the lowest rates." There is some evidence that polyunsaturated vegetable oil in large amounts may promote cancer, but "moderate amounts of corn oil, safflower oil and the other highly unsaturated oils are probably perfectly safe. However, olive oil is probably safer for very heavy oil users. Rancid oils of any type may promote cancer as might vegetable oils used over and over for deep frying."

Kurt Butler, nutritionist, and Dr. Lynn Rayner, internal medicine specialist, in "The New Handbook of Health and Preventive Medicine" (Prometheus Books, 1990, $16.95).

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