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Saturated fat and small intestine cancer

Diet high in saturated fat appears to increase the risk of cancer of the small intestine.

Saturated fat and small intestine cancer

Diet high in saturated fat appears to increase the risk of cancer of the small intestine. The small intestine makes up 75 percent of the digestive tract, yet rarely do cancers develop there, more often showing up in the large intestine, or colon. Identifying modifiable risk factors for cancer of the small intestine is important because the incidence of this cancer is rising. Previous studies have linked consumption of red and processed meats with colon cancer, but the association with small intestine cancer has received relatively little attention and has not been examined in a prospective study. Researchers from America examined the role of diet in the development of small intestine cancer in half a million men and women. Food frequency questionnaires were used to gauge meat and fat intake and the subjects were followed for up to 8 years for cancer. During follow-up, 60 people developed adenocarcinomas and 80 developed gastric carcinoid tumours - a rare type of stomach cancer. No statistically significant association between red or processed meat intake and small intestine malignancies was seen. Saturated fat intake, on the other hand, was found to be linked with the development of carcinoid tumours. Relative to people with the lowest intake of saturated fat, those with the highest intake had a 3-fold higher risk of carcinoid tumours, and this might explain the higher risk of small intestine tumours observed in earlier studies linked to higher meat intake. In view of the results of this study, it is recommended that our diet should contain limited amounts of saturated fats to lower the risk of small intestine cancers.
Cancer Research
November 2008
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