Good News: They Now Say Your Diet Will Not Give You Cancer (But Bering Fat Will)

You're not going to believe this.  An apple a day does not keep the doctor away.  Fatty foods don't cause cancer.  But coffee may have some minimal benefit in warding off the disease.

All revealed at the American Association for Cancer Research's annual meeting, according to George Johnson of The New York Times.

He reports that many of the supposed tried-and-true benefits of diet and illness just don't, well, hold water. He notes that in 1997 studies showed that "green vegetables helped ward off lung and stomach cancer. Colon and thyroid cancer might be avoided with broccoli, cabbage and brussels sprouts. Onions, tomatoes, garlic, carrots and citrus fruits all seemed to play important roles."

But that was completely reversed in 2007.

"The hypothesis that fatty foods are a direct cause of cancer has also been crumbling, along with the case for eating more fiber," he adds. "The idea that red meat causes colon cancer is shrouded in ambiguity. Two meta-analyses published in 2011 reached conflicting conclusions — one finding a small effect and the other no clear link at all."

“Diet and cancer has turned out to be more complex and challenging than any of us expected,” Johnson quotes Dr. Walter C. Willett, a Harvard epidemiologist who has spent many years studying cancer and nutrition, at the conference

But Johnson points out there were some reasons for optimism. "A study last year suggested that while eating lots of produce had no effect on most breast cancers, vegetables might reduce the occurrence of a type called estrogen-negative. Cutting back on milk and other dairy products might possibly lower the risk of prostate cancer.  And while diet and cancer don't seem to have much to do with each other, plenty of fruits and vegetables are still necessary for good health, and being overweight or obese can only lead to health problems, or even death. 

So, what are we to make of all this?  "Controlling obesity is important, as it also is for heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, stroke and other threats to life," Johnson writes. Avoiding excess of alcohol has clear benefits. "But unless a person is seriously malnourished, the influence of specific foods is so weak that the signal is easily swamped by noise," he concludes.

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