Malnutrition as a cancer risk factor

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Dietary habits as a major risk factor for cancer?

According to the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) in Heidelberg, unhealthy nutrition and obesity are becoming one of the most important cancer risk factors. "We have more and more indications that our western lifestyle with over-nutrition, overweight and metabolic disorders leads to a significant increase in cancer," quotes the news agency "dpa", DKFZ CEO Otmar Wiestler.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a significant increase in cancer can be expected worldwide in the coming decades. According to the DFKZ, malnutrition plays a major role in western industrialized nations. According to Wiestler, “the connection is relatively clear for cancer in the gastrointestinal area. But it also seems to be the case for breast cancer, prostate and pancreatic cancer. ”Smoking remains the biggest cancer risk factor to this day, but tobacco consumption in Germany has been declining for years. "It could well be that the malnutrition factor closes this gap," explained Wiestler.

Relationship between diet and cancer risk While tobacco use is declining in the population, more and more people are suffering from obesity and obesity. According to the experts, this plays a major role in the fact that cancer will continue to rise drastically in the future. According to the DKFZ, the available studies provide clear evidence that there is a direct connection between cancer and nutrition. The cancer researchers assume that an estimated 20 to 42 percent of cancers are due to wrong eating habits. So far, however, it remains open why such a connection exists or which molecular mechanisms play a role and how individuals can influence their personal cancer risk through diet, the DKFZ reported at a press conference in the run-up to today's World Cancer Day. It also discussed "how the microbiome, that is, the composition of the bacterial intestinal flora, is linked to cancer and what role previously undetected viruses could play," the Cancer Research Center said.

Viruses in cattle blood as a risk factor? Virologist and Nobel laureate Harald zur Hausen, who works at the DKFZ, is currently researching possible connections between the consumption of red meat and the risk of colorectal cancer. It is known that the consumption of red meat, for example, significantly increases the risk of colon cancer (up to 30 percent), although it is striking that colon cancer occurs significantly less frequently in countries with low consumption of European-Asian beef, the expert reports. According to the virologist, special viruses in the cattle could be the cause here. Humans might ingest them if they eat the meat raw or poorly fried. However, the search for corresponding viruses in the blood of cattle is somewhat similar to the search in a haystack. According to Harald zur Hausen, the researchers have "indeed been able to isolate a whole series of new viruses", but it has so far remained unclear "whether they actually play a role in colon cancer." that does it all on its own - there must still be damage to the genome of the affected cells, ”quotes the“ dpa ”the Nobel Prize winner.

Minimizing the risk of cancer with a healthy diet According to the DKFZ CEO, nutrition as a possible cancer risk factor should urgently be researched further, because "if you understand the relationship between diet and cancer, you can also develop ways to intervene in a targeted manner." that this is about "getting people to eat fiber and fiber, eat lots of fruits and vegetables - and as little sugared and high-fat foods as possible," emphasized Wiestler. A healthy diet can also counteract the development of obesity, so that it does not appear as a cancer risk factor. (fp)

Image: Tim Reckmann /

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