Lung cancer is one of the most common types of cancer, and it’s the leading cause of cancer death in the United States. While experts have long known that smoking cigarettes is a lung cancer risk factor, new research published in September 2021 shows that certain foods can also affect risk.
Fruits, vegetables, breakfast cereals, and foods that contain fiber help protect against lung cancer, the study found. On the other hand, red meat (such as beef, lamb, or pork) and processed meat (including bacon, lunch meat, sausage, and hot dogs) can raise the risk of developing the condition.
To conduct the study, researchers collected data from more than 416,000 people in the UK Biobank. This database contains health information, including details about diet, from people around the United Kingdom.
The study authors compared the typical diet of people who were diagnosed with lung cancer to the diet of those who hadn’t developed the disease over a seven-year period. They found:
The researchers also discovered that lung cancer was more common in those who ate certain foods:
In the study, researchers also analyzed overall diet patterns. They discovered that people had a lower risk of lung cancer if they more closely followed a “Prudent” pattern, which consists of a lot of salad, vegetables, fruit, and fish. However, those who followed a Western diet pattern and ate a lot of poultry, beef, lamb, pork, and processed meat were more likely to be diagnosed with lung cancer.
“These findings suggest that a plant-based diet as a modifiable lifestyle factor should be promoted regarding lung cancer prevention,” the authors concluded.