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Salud Publica Mex. 1997 Jul-Aug;39(4):298-309.

Nutrition and cancer.

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Department of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


Evidence from both animal and epidemiologic studies indicate that throughout life excessive energy intake in relation to requirements increases risk of human cancer. Rapid growth rates in childhood lead to earlier age at menarche, which in turn increases risk of breast cancer, and accumulation of body fat in adulthood in related to cancers of the colon, kidney, and endometrium as well as postmenopausal breast cancer. Higher intake of vegetables and fruits has been associated with lower risks of many cancers. The constituents responsible for these apparent protective effects remain uncertain, although evidence supports a contribution of folic acid. Recent evidence suggests that the percentage of energy from fat in the diet is not a major cause of cancers of the breast or colon. Higher intake of meat and dairy products has been associated with greater risk of prostate cancer, which may be related to their saturated fat content. Also, red meat consumption has been associated with risk of colon cancer in numerous studies, but this appears to be unrelated to its fat content. Excessive consumption of alcohol increases risks of upper gastrointestinal tract and even moderate intake appears to increase cancers of the breast and large bowel. Although many details remain to be learned, evidence is strong that remaining physically active and lean throughout life, consuming an abundance of fruits and vegetables, and avoiding high intakes of red meat, foods high in animal fat, and excessive alcohol will substantially reduce risk of human cancer.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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