To Your Health
February, 2010 (Vol. 04, Issue 02)
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3. High Cholesterol Is Not Your Friend

A recent large-scale study, results of which were published in November 2009, suggests that a person's risk of cancer may be significantly lower when cholesterol levels are kept low.

Demetrius Albanes, from the National Cancer Institute, and colleagues studied data collected on 29,093 men enrolled in the Alpha-Tocopherol, Beta-Carotene Cancer Prevention Study, reviewing more than 18 years of data. While the researchers found that cholesterol levels below 200 milligrams per deciliter were associated with an 18 percent higher overall risk of cancer, that increased risk applied only to cases diagnosed in the early years of the study (suggesting patients may have already been in the early stages of cancer or been otherwise predisposed to develop cancer). On the other hand, higher levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (known as the "good" cholesterol because of its ability to remove cholesterol and plaque from the bloodstream) were associated with a 14 percent lower risk of all cancers over the entire study period.

woman taking temperature - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark 4. Take Your Dentist's Advice

Advanced gum disease is linked to increased head and neck cancers, according to Mine Tezal, from State University of New York, Buffalo, and his research team, who assessed the effect of advanced gum disease (chronic periodontitis) on the prevalence of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). The link between gum disease and cancer was strongest among people with cancers of the mouth, followed by cancers of the oropharynx and larynx.  The team commented: " This study suggests that chronic periodontitis is an independent risk factor for HNSCC. These results have implications for practical and safe strategies for prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of [head and neck cancers]."

5. Avoid Dietary No-No's

Acrylamide, a probable human carcinogen, is formed most notably when foods high in starches (potatoes, for example) are cooked at high temperatures (such as fried, roasted, baked or toasted). Increased dietary intake of acrylamide may raise the risk of endometrial cancer by 29 percent and ovarian cancer by 78 percent. Janneke Hogervorst and fellow researchers from Maastricht University (Netherlands) analyzed data from more than 62,000 women for more than 11 years, finding that when average acrylamide intake was 8.9 mcg per day, the highest intake, at 40.2 mcg per day, was associated with the greatest increases in risks of both endometrial and ovarian cancers.

In a separate study led by Henrik Frandsen, from the Technical University of Denmark, researchers found a direct association between acrylamide and an increased risk of breast cancer. The team showed that the risk of breast cancer doubles with a 10-fold increase in the levels of acrylamide in hemoglobin. The study also showed a stronger association for estrogen-receptor positive breast cancer with increased blood levels of acrylamide.

Potato Chips - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark A diet high in red meats and processed meats appears to be another dietary no-no, according to a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology. The study, involving over 175,000 men, suggests that men who eat a lot of red meat and processed meats may have a higher risk of developing prostate cancer, as compared to those who limit their consumption of such foods.

Rashmi Sinha, from the National Cancer Institute, and colleagues studied 175,343 U.S. men, ages 50 to 71 years, for nine years. The team found that men who ate the most red and processed meats had an elevated risk of developing any stage of prostate cancer, but advanced cancer in particular. The researchers also speculate that grilling and barbecuing red meat may be particularly connected to prostate cancer risk, as high-heat cooking produces certain chemicals, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and heterocyclic amines, that are known to cause cancer in animals.