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‘Snack foods’ linked to even higher cancer risk in susceptible people

18-Dec-2012
Last updated on 18-Dec-2012 at 13:50 GMT

Consumption of junk food and snacks could significantly increase the risk of certain cancers in people with a pre-defined high risk due to a genetic condition, warn researchers.

The warning comes after research conducted by Dr Akke Botma and her colleagues at Wageningen University in the Netherlands found that high intake of snack foods can amplify the increased risk of cancers found in people with a condition known as Lynch syndrome.

Writing in the journal Cancer, the research team suggest that people with the condition should consider an eating pattern that us low in snack foods as it may help to lower their risk.

"We saw that Lynch syndrome patients who had an eating pattern with higher intakes of snack foods - like fast food snacks, chips, or fried snacks - were twice as likely to develop these polyps as Lynch syndrome patients having a pattern with lower intakes of snack foods," said Botma.

"Unfortunately, this does not mean that eating a diet low in snack foods will prevent any polyps from developing, but it might mean that those Lynch syndrome patients who eat a lot of snack foods might have more polyps than if they ate less snack foods," she added.

Cancer risk

Many previous studies have investigated the supposed links between certain foods and colorectal cancer, with a general consensus red and processed meats and alcohol consumption can increase risk.

At the same time, they note that Lynch syndrome is an inherited condition characterised by a high risk of developing colorectal cancer, endometrial cancer, and other cancers at an early age.

They said that very few studies have evaluated how lifestyle factors such as diet influence cancer outcomes in people with Lynch syndrome.

Study details

To investigate, Botma and her team collected dietary information from 486 individuals with Lynch syndrome and then followed them for an average of 20 months.

During this time colorectal polyps (precancerous lesions) were detected in 58 people in the study.

The team found that those Lynch syndrome patients with higher consumption of snack foods were twice as likely to develop polyps as those with Lynch syndrome and a diet lower in snacks. 

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