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DIET AND CANCER

The link between diet and cancer is one of the most challenging areas of current research. Some things are known with reasonable certainty, some things will be known for certain quite soon and others remain rather speculative. We believe that the link between fibre (and perhaps starch) and cancer of the large bowel is reasonably well established. The link between fat and breast cancer may not be direct and causal. Similarly, the link between fat or meat and bowel cancer may not be a direct causative one. The link between vitamin A and carotene and prevention of lung cancer and probably other cancers is still unproven, although a lot of supportive evidence exists which may be confirmed by the results of important trials in the next five years or so. Obesity is strongly associated with a number of relatively uncommon cancers. The evidence incriminating food additives and substances produced in cooking and then eaten is relatively slender except for that relating to anatoxins from fungi, which may be important in liver cancer in the developing world. Certain nitrogen compounds in rood, especially when it is smoked or preserved, are possibly implicated in stomach cancer. So what does a practical person do about diet in order to
minimize cancer risk?
These are among the most difficult recommendations we have to make because the area is so important but so uncertain. It is sensible to think about food rather than the nutrients of which it consists since this is the choice facing the individual. It seems also sensible to think about enjoyable food because only this advice is likely to be accepted. Any changes have to be moderate, easy and cheap. Any supplement to diet must be simple, cheap and accessible.
We have been impressed by some evidence and confounded by some. The science of nutrition can be rather inexact. The International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon has a programme to collect the dietary facts from 350,000 Europeans in the next few years. We await their results with interest and wish them good luck – they may need it.
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DIET AND CANCERThe link between diet and cancer is one of the most challenging areas of current research. Some things are known with reasonable certainty, some things will be known for certain quite soon and others remain rather speculative. We believe that the link between fibre (and perhaps starch) and cancer of the large bowel is reasonably well established. The link between fat and breast cancer may not be direct and causal. Similarly, the link between fat or meat and bowel cancer may not be a direct causative one. The link between vitamin A and carotene and prevention of lung cancer and probably other cancers is still unproven, although a lot of supportive evidence exists which may be confirmed by the results of important trials in the next five years or so. Obesity is strongly associated with a number of relatively uncommon cancers. The evidence incriminating food additives and substances produced in cooking and then eaten is relatively slender except for that relating to anatoxins from fungi, which may be important in liver cancer in the developing world. Certain nitrogen compounds in rood, especially when it is smoked or preserved, are possibly implicated in stomach cancer. So what does a practical person do about diet in order tominimize cancer risk?These are among the most difficult recommendations we have to make because the area is so important but so uncertain. It is sensible to think about food rather than the nutrients of which it consists since this is the choice facing the individual. It seems also sensible to think about enjoyable food because only this advice is likely to be accepted. Any changes have to be moderate, easy and cheap. Any supplement to diet must be simple, cheap and accessible.We have been impressed by some evidence and confounded by some. The science of nutrition can be rather inexact. The International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon has a programme to collect the dietary facts from 350,000 Europeans in the next few years. We await their results with interest and wish them good luck – they may need it.*65\194\4*

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