Teens who eat more chicken and fish may lower their risk of developing colon cancer, a new study has claimed.
In a study of nearly 20,000 women, those who ate more chicken during their teen years had lower risks of developing colorectal adenomas, which are benign tumours that may progress into colon cancer.
The researchers did not find a direct relationship between red meat intake and adenomas, but the results showed that replacing one serving per day of red meat with one serving of poultry or fish may reduce the risks of rectal and advanced adenomas by about 40 percent.
“Among different cancers, colorectal cancer is the most influenced by diet. Compared to something like smoking, diet is not a large cancer risk factor, but it does have an impact,” said study researcher Dr Katharina Nimptsch. Previous research has found that a diet high in red and processed meat may increase risks of colon cancer.
However, earlier studies have investigated diet during adulthood, rather than focusing on what people eat earlier in life, and their future cancer risk. “Colorectal carcinogenesis is a long process that can take several decades, and the initial steps of carcinogenesis may occur at young ages,” researchers wrote in the new study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.
In the study, women ages 34 to 51 answered questions about their diet during high school. Over the following 10 years, 1,494 of the women were diagnosed with colorectal adenomas. Of these adenomas, 305 were in an advanced stage.
“Our findings do not suggest an association between red meat intake during adolescence and colorectal adenomas later in life, but higher poultry intake during this time was associated with a lower risk of colorectal adenomas,” researchers said.
Eating more poultry and fish in adulthood didn’t seem to change the risk, according to the study. “Before recommendations are made based on these findings, it is necessary that results are confirmed,” Nimptsch said.