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Source:  http://www.abdn.ac.uk/news/4477/

05 September 2012

Balanced diet needed to help protect against cancer

Dr Silvia Gratz
Dr Silvia Gratz

A diet with foods rich in fibre and vitamin C could help protect against bowel cancer

Balancing your diet with protective foods rich in fibre and vitamin C can help prevent the formation of cancer causing compounds in the gut, the British Science Festival will hear today.

Researchers at the University of Aberdeen Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health have carried out the first study to investigate the impact of a combination of different foods on the formation of compounds that can lead to bowel cancer.

A total of 48 obese men took part in trials at the Rowett’s human nutrition unit and followed nine different diets varying in red meat and foodstuffs rich in vitamin C, fibre and nitrates.

Red meat has already been linked with cancer but a diet that relied only on nitrate-rich foods such as lettuce leaves, spinach, radishes, beetroot and turnips could also be problematic.

Dr Silvia Gratz, Research Fellow at the Rowett, said: “Red meat intake is high in the Western world - on average more than 90 grams per day of red meat is eaten by UK men and exceeds the level recommended by the World Cancer Research Fund of 70 grams per day. But high red meat consumption is associated with an increased risk of developing colorectal cancer.   Therefore the popularity of high protein and high meat diets that aid successful weight loss may cause problems for intestinal health.

“Formation of carcinogenic N-nitroso compounds in the gut is a suggested mechanism to explain the link between red meat consumption and colorectal cancer. Although red meat is considered the most important dietary component linked to the formation of carcinogenic compound, other dietary components may also play a role.

“We conducted three controlled dietary intervention trials, where obese men were fed different weight loss diets with varying amounts of red meat, protein, carbohydrate, fibre, vitamin C and nitrate. We then measured N-nitroso compounds in stool samples, and correlated these with the intakes of each of the dietary constituents. Our results confirmed that a high red meat intake significantly contributes to the formation of carcinogenic N-nitroso compounds. But we also found that a high nitrate intake found in leafy salads and some root vegetables is also associated with an increase in these carcinogenic compounds.

“Our study also showed that that the intake of dietary vitamin C and dietary fibre decrease the formation of N-nitroso compounds in the human gut. Ours is the first study to assess the influence of several dietary contributors to endogenous formation of N-nitroso compounds simultaneously. It highlights the importance of balancing potentially problematic foods such as red meat and high-nitrate foods such as some leafy and root vegetables with protective foods that are rich in vitamin C and dietary fibre.”

Notes for Editors

Dr Silvia Gratz is taking part in a press conference at the British Science Festival.  She is available for interview for journalists not attending the Festival. To arrange, contact Communications Officers Jennifer Phillips / Kelly Potts on 01224 273174 / 01224 272960.

1.      About the British Science Festival

The British Science Festival is one of Europe’s largest science festivals and regularly attracts over 350 of the UK’s top scientists and speakers to discuss the latest developments in science with the public. Over 50,000 visitors regularly attend the talks, discussions and workshops. The Festival takes place at a different location each year and was last held in Aberdeen in 1963. The 2012 Festival will take place from 4 - 9 September hosted by the University of Aberdeen The 2012 British Science Festival in Aberdeen is organised by the British Science Association, the University of Aberdeen and TechFest-SetPoint .

For further information, visit www.britishscienceassociation.org/festival.

2.    The University of Aberdeen

Founded in 1495, the University of Aberdeen is the fifth oldest university in the UK, with a student population of around 16,000, and a large international community of students drawn from 120 different countries. The institution has an excellent reputation for teaching quality and research, and five Nobel Laureates are associated with the University.

3.     About the British Science Association

The British Science Association is the UK's nationwide, open membership organisation which provides opportunities for people of all ages to learn about, discuss and challenge the sciences and their implications. Established in 1831, the British Science Association organises major initiatives across the UK, including National Science & Engineering Week, the annual British Science Festival, programmes of regional and local events, and an extensive programme for young people in schools and colleges. The Association also organises specific activities for the science communication community in the UK through its Science in Society programme. For more information, please visit http://www.britishscienceassociation.org/.

 


Issued by the Communications Team
Office of External Affairs, University of Aberdeen, King's College, Aberdeen
Tel: +44 (0)1224 272014

Contact: Jennifer Phillips
Issued on: 05 September 2012
Ref: 258balanced


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