We know that eating a pro-inflammatory diet can lead to a whole host of health problems, including digestive issues, leaky gut syndrome, and even autoimmune issues. But a new study published in the journal JAMA Oncology has linked inflammatory diets to a more serious condition: colorectal cancer. More specifically, the researchers found that men and women on a very pro-inflammatory diet were, on average, 32% more likely to develop this cancer than those who ate healthier.
"There are several stimulators of chronic inflammation, and diet is one of those factors that can constantly stimulate the body toward a more chronic inflammatory state," said lead study author Fred Tabung, a research associate in the department of nutrition at Harvard, as quoted by Vox. "With this study, we are inching closer to understanding inflammation as a cancer risk."
To uncover this connection, researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health followed 121,050 adults over a period of 26 years, first scoring their diets on the Empirical Dietary Inflammatory Pattern (EDIP) continuum, from highly pro-inflammatory to anti-inflammatory. Those with the most inflammatory diets ate a lot of processed meats, red meat, organ meat, sugary beverages, and refined grains, and very few vegetables, coffee, tea, or wine.
Using that inflammation score, they determined each participants' risk of developing colorectal cancer over a period of 26 years; 2700 newly diagnosed colon and rectal cancer cases sprung up within the very pro-inflammatory group during that time. "The study shows us one potential mechanism through which diet influences cancer risk," added Tabung, admitting that more dietary intervention studies are needed to confirm and explore this connection.
Head over to Vox for more information.