Friday, October 13, 2000

Poor Diet Likely a Factor in Cancer, Other Chronic Diseases, Research Says, Community Health Funding Report

Poor Diet Likely a Factor in Cancer, Other Chronic Diseases, Research Says
By Pamela Appea
Community Health Funding Report, Women’s Health
October 13, 2000
Copyright 2000 by Community Development Publications

Researchers say finding a definite correlation between chronic disease like breast cancer and a proper diet in older women can be difficult because of a lack of funding and other research-oriented limitations.

Ross Prentice, senior vice president and director of public health sciences at the Fred Hutchinson Research Center in Seattle, tells a Society for Women’s Health Research conference preliminary research shows a “strong positive association” between breast cancer in post-menopausal women and poor diet, but other studies do not.

The continuing study monitors postmenopausal women at 40 clinics, ages 50-74, for the benefits and risks of low-fat eating patterns, hormone replacement therapy, and calcium and vitamin D. Older women tend more to suffer poor health including cancer, diabetes, hypertension and myriad other chronic diseases that could be prevented or reduced by better nutrition, conference researchers say.

As principal investigator of the clinical coordinator center for the NIH-sponsored Women’s Health Initiative, Prentice says the research group has not been able to get additional funding through NIH for broader research.

Complete research results will not be available for several more years, Prentice tells CHF.

A cohort study includes a large percentage of women from various minority groups. Prentice tells CHF much can be learned about nutrition, chronic disease and prevention by studying migrant and immigrant women who moved to the United States. He cited a 1996 study focusing on a group of Asian women and observed the women’s chances for breast cancer increased by 60% after several years of acclimating to the United States.

In separate studies, researchers say women who take calcium supplements “fell better” and gain less weight during middle age. The less weight women gain, the less likely they will develop chronic health diseases.

“Women have a bigger problem with obesity,” says Blackburn, Harvard U. associate professor in surgery and nutrition and an expert in nutrition medicine.

Info: Society for Women’s Health Research 202/223-8224;