New Study Finds A Western-Style Diet May Be Linked To Cancer Risk

Despite the name, a western-style diet does not involve wearing cowboy boots and eating on a long cattle drive. The American Journal of Physiology refers to it as the standard American diet because it is marked by an "over-availability" of food. Technological advances have changed the way that the modern Western world eats, mainly with a higher consumption of processed foods.

According to CNN, the diet is high in carbs, salt, sugar, fat, red meat but low in fiber. It's also characterized by consuming large amounts of calories and processed foods coinciding with a lack of physical activity. As a result, CNN notes that there is an increased risk of obesity and diabetes. Plus, it also can affect the immune system along with gut health. And now, per Brigham Clinical and Research News, a new study by researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital have linked the western-style diet to cancer.

Study explained

The U.S.-based study involved 134,775 participants over four years. It shows that the western-style diet affects the "intestinal microbiota" and may be associated with a higher risk of colorectal cancer. "This is the first study to link Western diet with specific pathogenic bacteria in cancer," said corresponding author Shuji Ogino, MD, PhD, MS, in the Brigham Clinical and Research News article. "Our next question is which component of western-style diet and lifestyle relates to colorectal cancer containing this bacterial species."

The western-style diet changes the bacteria in your gut, CNN explains. Eating processed foods can lead to less good bacteria and more bad bacteria. The changes affect the immune system, which leads to more inflammation. This all adds up to an increased risk of colon cancer as the inflammation can damage the cells, causing more turnover. More cell replications can lead to gene mutations and more of a chance of cancer (per CNN).