Dietary fat may raise risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma

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Kimberly A Bertrand at Boston University in Boston, MA and colleagues published a study in 2017 in the American Journal of Clinic Nutrition suggesting that eating too much fat may increase non-Hodgkin lymphoma risk.

The study sponsored by the U.S. government and American Cancer Society suggests that dietary fat intake may influence the risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma by affecting carcinogen exposure or the immune system. Critics say that the American Cancer Society is too close to the cancer industry. And its involvement in any cancer study may actually influence the study outcome in favor of the cancer industry.

The study analyzed data from the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) (n = 88,598) and the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study (HPFS) (n = 47,531) and found that during 24 to 40 years of follow-up, neither total nor specific dietary fats were significantly correlated with non-Hodgkin lymphoma risk.

However, among women, higher total dietary fat intake, animal fat intake, and saturated fat intake were positively correlated with the risk of the chronic lymphocytic leukemia and small lymphocytic lymphoma subtype followed between 1980 and 1994.

During the same period of follow-up, for men and women together, total fat intake was significantly associated with non-Hodgkin lymphoma overall risk (those with high intake were at 13% increased risk for the cancer.) High total fat intake was associated with 47% increased risk of diffuse large B cell lymphoma. Similar associations were found with animal and saturated fat intake. For women, trans fat was significantly correlated with all non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Interestingly, after 1994, the associations were not so significant. This could be because other risk factors overshadow the risk from dietary fat intake.

The study conclusion does not mean too much because it is really not so clear how dietary fat intake affect the risk of cancers like non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Take observations from this study with a grain of salt.

Dietary fat is an important factor that may affect the risk of many types of cancer. For instance, trans fat is known to affect certain cancers like breast cancer. Vegetable cooking oils can affect colon cancer risk.

The take home message is that you should not eat too much fat! For one thing, vegetable fats or cooking oils are not so healthy. They can cause a lot of healthy problems because they are not stable and can be oxidized and hydrogenated when heated and the presence of air. Eating too much saturated fat, which is found in animal fat, can also be a problem. Saturated can increase risk of heart disease and diabetes.  (David Liu)

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