My grandmother has had ovarian cancer for 4 years now. She was told that the consumption of sugar and caffeine feeds cancer. Since then she has stopped eating sweets, and drinks de-caf coffee in the morning. She's wondering if this is true, and if she should continue not consuming sugar and caffeine.
The studies that have tried to link diet with cancer have usually involved telephone surveys or questionnaires asking a group of people with cancer about their diet over the past 20 years and comparing them to a group of people without cancer. As you can imagine, the results are dependent on how well a person remembers what they ate and in what quantities. There is always the bias of people who develop a cancer trying to find an explanation for their illness. They might over-recall a certain habit.
With that in mind, I have pasted an abstract of a study looking at women's dairy intake. There was a non statistically significant increased dairy intake in women with ovarian cancer compared to those who did not have ovarian cancer.
I could not find any scientific literature linking sugar or caffeine with cancer.
A prospective study of dietary lactose and ovarian cancer.Fairfield KM, Hunter DJ, Colditz GA, Fuchs CS, Cramer DW, Speizer FE, Willett WC, Hankinson SE.
Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA. ***@**** Int J Cancer. 2004 Jun 10;110(2):271-7
The milk sugar lactose is an hypothesized risk factor for epithelial ovarian cancer because of possible direct toxic effects of its metabolites on oocytes or by compensatory gonadotropin stimulation. Women are presently encouraged to consume dairy products as a source of calcium to prevent osteoporosis. The objective of our study was to prospectively assess lactose, milk and milk product consumption in relation to ovarian cancer risk among 80326 participants in the Nurses' Health Study who had no history of cancer other than nonmelanoma skin cancer. Participants in the Nurses' Health Study reported on known and suspected ovarian cancer risk factors in questionnaires mailed biennially from 1976 to 1996. Food frequency questionnaires were included in the years 1980, 1984, 1986 and 1990. Newly reported ovarian cancer was documented by review of medical records. During 16 years of follow-up (1980-1996), 301 cases of invasive epithelial ovarian cancer were confirmed. Pooled logistic regression was used to control for age, body mass index (kg/m(2)), caffeine intake, oral contraceptive use, smoking history, parity and tubal ligation. For all subtypes of invasive ovarian cancer combined, we observed a nonsignificant 40% greater risk for women in the highest category of lactose consumption compared to the lowest (multivariate relative risk (RR) 1.40, 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.98-2.01). We observed a 2-fold higher risk of the serous ovarian cancer subtype among those in the highest category of lactose consumption compared to the lowest (RR 2.07, 95% CI, 1.27-3.40). For each 11-gram increase in lactose consumption (the approximate amount in one glass of milk), we observed a 20% increase in risk of serous cancers (RR 1.20, 95% CI, 1.04-1.39). Skim and low-fat milk were the largest contributors to dietary lactose. Women who consumed one or more servings of skim or low-fat milk daily had a 32% higher risk of any ovarian cancer (RR 1.32, 95% CI, 0.97-1.82) and a 69% higher risk of serous ovarian cancer (RR 1.69, 95% CI, 1.12-2.56) compared to women consuming 3 or less servings monthly. Controlling for fat intake did not change our findings. Our findings provide some support for the hypothesis that lactose intake increases risk of epithelial ovarian cancer. However, the observed excess risk appeared limited to the serous subtype of ovarian cancer in our study.
If only it was so simple.
I do not think diet causes cancer. I suspect that diet plays a very minor role but severe excesses in dietary intake may enhance the genetic predispositions an individual has to getting a cancer
such as too much alcohol and cigarettes (associated with throat, lung, breast, bladder , cervical cancers),
too much fats and being overweight (associated with breast, ovarian, endometrial cancers)
too much smoked meats and fishes (associated with stomach cancers)
too much meat (associated with colon cancers)
ultimately the golden mean - everything in moderation for a healthy lifestyle is the best one can do
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