Changing diet will cut cancer deaths perhaps in half:
18/11/2005- More than a third of the world's cancer deaths can be blamed on nine modifiable risk factors, including diet and obesity, shows a new study out today. The report, published in tomorrow's issue of The Lancet (vol 366, no 9499), estimates that 2.43 million, or 35 per cent of the 7 million deaths from cancer in 2001 were caused by a lifestyle that could have been changed.
The Harvard University researchers based their findings on a comprehensive review of scientific studies and other sources such as government reports.
Smoking, alcohol use, and low fruit and vegetable intake were the leading risk factors for death from cancer worldwide and in low-and-middle-income countries.
In high-income countries, smoking, alcohol use, and overweight and obesity were the most important causes of cancer.
The charity Cancer Research UK estimates that around half of all cancers in the UK could be prevented by changes to lifestyle.
Comment: While I believe this information is true, there is more that people can do besides just changing diet. Bruce N. Ames, professor of molecular and cell biology at UC Berkeley says that DNA damage from micro nutrient deficiencies is likely to be a major cause of cancer. A deficiency of any of the micro nutrients: folic acid, Vitamin B12, Vitamin B6, niacin, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, iron, or zinc, mimics radiation in damaging DNA by causing single- and double-strand breaks, oxidative lesions, or both. For example, the percentage of the US population that has a low intake (<50%>20%. A level of folate deficiency causing chromosome breaks was present in approximately 10% of the US population, and in a much higher percentage of the poor. Folate deficiency causes extensive incorporation of uracil into human DNA (4 million/cell), leading to chromosomal breaks. This mechanism is the likely cause of the increased colon cancer risk associated with low folate intake. Some evidence, and mechanistic considerations, suggest that Vitamin B12 (14% US elderly) and B6 (10% of US) deficiencies also cause high uracil and chromosome breaks. Micro nutrient deficiency may explain, in good part, why the quarter of the population that eats the fewest fruits and vegetables (five portions a day is advised) has about double the cancer rate for most types of cancer when compared to the quarter with the highest intake. For example, 80% of American children and adolescents and 68% of adults do not eat five portions a day. Common micro nutrient deficiencies are likely to damage DNA by the same mechanism as radiation and many chemicals, appear to be orders of magnitude more important, and should be compared for perspective. Remedying micro nutrient deficiencies should lead to a major improvement in health and an increase in longevity at low cost.
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