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Greens Cut Kidney Cancer Risks

April 21, 2009

Fighting kidney cancer could be as easy as swapping your next steak for a plate of leafy greens, new research in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association shows.

Researchers found that eating red meat may increase a person’s risk of developing the most common type of kidney cancer, while eating vegetables may provide a protective effect.

Kidney cancer is on the rise in the United States, and thus far, the best-documented risk factors for the disease are obesity and cigarette smoking.

Head investigator Dr. Nabih R. Asal of the University of Florida, Gainesville, and his team of researchers also found people were at greater risk of the disease when they ate lots of white bread and white potatoes compared to those who ate these foods less frequently. The relationship was particularly strong among women.

Co-author Suzanne Dolwick Grieb told Reuters Health that these starchy foods could boost cancer risk because of their high glycemic index.

Glycemic index indicates how quickly blood glucose rises after eating a particular food.

“Foods that have a high glycemic index are known to affect insulin resistance and also insulin-like growth factors,” Grieb noted. “Those two things have been implicated in other cancers.”

Grieb and her colleagues investigated whether certain types of foods might influence the risk of renal cell carcinoma by comparing 335 people with renal cell carcinoma with 337 healthy controls.

During the study, the participants reported how frequently they ate a variety of different foods.

Interestingly, eating spinach, greens, and tomatoes, reduced cancer risk in all study participants. But researchers found white potatoes increased it, with the strongest effects seen in women.

The study found no relationship between fruit and dairy food consumption and renal cell carcinoma.

However, people who ate red meat five or more times a week were more than four times as likely to develop the disease compared to people who consumed red meat less than once a week.

Researchers say more studies are needed to further examine this issue.

They suggest future studies of renal cell carcinoma risk factors should look at a variety of ethnic groups, they say, because there are “clear racial disparities” in trends in the incidence of the disease.

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