Put the Chips Down: Junk Food Could Increase Cancer Risk - Crozer-Keystone Health System - PA

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Published on August 22, 2013

Put the Chips Down: Junk Food Could Increase Cancer Risk 

As the name implies, junk food isn’t exactly good for you. Most of us know this but it can still be really really hard not to sneak in a bag of potato chips every now and then or a trip to Mickey D’s, because hey, a little bit can’t be that bad, right?  Well, you may want to stop yourself before you decide to continue feeding your small junk food habit.

After studying over 2,000 colon cancer patients and almost 3,000 control patients from Scotland, researchers found that those who consumed junk food, which included foods high in sugar and fat and of little nutritional value, had a higher risk of colon cancer. While the findings may not be all too surprising, it likely calls for some immediate lifestyle changes for those who can’t get enough of these guilty pleasures.

And if you think that you’re safe with fruit and vegetable juices, you may want to double-check the nutrition label. Doctors also found that many fruit and vegetable juices were linked to increased colon cancer risk, which is likely due to the fact that whole fruits and veggies lose their nutritional value when juiced and bottled; many juices contain high levels of sugar, preservatives, and other additives.

If you’re the type to exercise so you can pig out afterwards, you should still take caution. Researchers also found that colon cancer risk was high even when physical activity and BMI were accounted for.

Colon cancer, which originates in the colon or rectum, is responsible for almost 10 percent of all cancer cases in the United States. Although the causes of this type of cancer are generally unknown, risk factors include genetics, family history, sedentary lifestyle, smoking, alcohol abuse, inflamed intestinal conditions, and more.

While this isn’t the first study to look at diet and colon cancer risk, it further supports the idea that the food we eat greatly affects our chances of developing cancer. One study conducted last year found that those who frequently ate fish had a 12 percent lower risk of colon cancer than those who didn’t. Additionally, another study found that those who eat an extra 90 grams of whole grains each day had a 20 percent lower risk of cancer in the colon.

To make sure you’re eating a healthy diet that reduces your risk of cancer, be sure to do the following:

  • Make healthy food choices. As a general rule of thumb, opt for foods that offer nutrients along with calories. Snack on fruits and veggies instead of chips and pretzels. Go for a grilled chicken sandwich instead of fried chicken strips.
  • Eat plenty of fiber from whole grains.
  • Eat plenty of vegetables. Cruciferous veggies such as cabbage, cauliflower, and kale are known to reduce the risk of colon cancer.
  • Avoid sweetened beverages, such as soda and sugary juices.

For more information about Crozer-Keystone Health System Cancer Services, visit http://ckcancer.crozerkeystone.org. You can also call 1-866-695-HOPE (4673) to request an appointment with a physician who cares for cancer patients.


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