Diet may lower African American women's cancer risk


Black women may be able to reduce their risk of ovarian cancer by eating a healthy diet, a new study suggests.

"As a high-quality diet is likely to have benefits for many chronic conditions, it is probably a safe bet for better health in general," study author Bonnie Qin, a postdoctoral associate at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, said in a news release from the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR).

Prevention is crucial

Qin is scheduled to present the research at an AACR meeting in Atlanta.

Read: Blood test for ovarian cancer

The study included 415 black women with ovarian cancer and a control group of 629 black women without the disease.

The cancer patients provided information about their eating habits in the year before their diagnosis, and those in the control group described their eating habits in the previous year.

The study wasn't designed to prove cause and effect. However, the results showed that those women with the healthiest diets – based on U.S. government guidelines – were 34 percent less likely to develop ovarian cancer than those with the least healthy diets.

Among postmenopausal women, those with the healthiest eating habits were 43 percent to 51 percent less likely to be diagnosed with ovarian cancer than those with the least healthy eating habits, Qin's team found.

Read: Smoking can harm ovaries

With ovarian cancer, prevention is crucial, Qin said.

"Because there is currently no reliable screening available for ovarian cancer, most cases are diagnosed at advanced stages," she noted.

"That highlights a critical need for identifying modifiable lifestyle factors, including dietary interventions."

More research is needed to determine whether all parts of a healthy diet, or just specific nutrients, contribute to reduced risk of ovarian cancer, Qin added.

One expert who reviewed the findings said they highlight the importance of eating well.

Read: Origin of aggressive ovarian cancer discovered 

The study "found that adherence to a healthy diet – one that includes a higher intake of vegetables, seafood and plant proteins and a lower intake of calories from solid fats, alcohol and added sugars – was associated with a significantly reduced risk of ovarian cancer," said Dr Stephen Rubin, chief of gynaecologic oncology at Fox Chase Cancer Centre in Philadelphia.

"Although the study is limited by the fact that patients may not accurately recall dietary details, these observations suggest yet another advantage to a healthy high-quality diet, which has been shown to have important health benefits for a large variety of serious medical conditions," he said.

Ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer death among American women. While black women are less likely than white women to be diagnosed with the disease, they are more likely to die from it.

Findings presented at medical meetings are typically considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal. 

Read more: 

Diet may influence ovarian cancer survival  

Experimental vaccine shows promise for ovarian cancer 

Ovarian cancer DNA detected in vaginal fluid

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Zama zama crackdown: What are your thoughts on West Village residents taking the law into their own hands?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Authorities should bring in the army already
10% - 1637 votes
Illegal miners can't be scapegoated for all crime
53% - 8596 votes
What else did we expect without no proper policing
34% - 5557 votes
Vigilante groups are also part of the problem
3% - 528 votes
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.