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Dr. Sajesh Veettil's Meta-analysis Published in JAMA Network Open

Feb 16, 2021

Colorectal cancer (CRC) is one of the leading cancers in the United States and rates are increasing in younger adults. Diet is one factor that may be contributing to these increasing CRC rates.

Dr. Sajesh Veettil (University of Utah College of Pharmacy) along with Drs. Nathorn Chaiyakunapruk (University of Utah College of Pharmacy) and Mary Playdon (University of Utah College of Health) decided to further analyze how diet can affect the risk of contracting CRC.

Sajesh Veettil Headshot

Their study, titled "Role of Diet in Colorectal Cancer Incidence : Umbrella review of meta-analysis of prospective observational studies" has been published in JAMA Network Open. It provides not just a summary but a sense of the robust research that has been done.

Veettil explains, “We conducted a systematic overview and summary of research findings to date on how diet relates to the risk of this deadly disease, supporting prior evidence that heavy alcohol intake and red meat intake increase one’s risk of colorectal cancer, while dietary fiber and calcium lowered risk.”

While their findings support reports from the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) and the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), they also encountered new findings giving new important knowledge on the role diet plays in the risk of contracting CRC.

“What this study adds is looking at dietary patterns and some specific foods, like yogurt, that were not evaluated previously.” Veettil says, “we also used a different set of criteria for evaluating how strong the evidence is for the different diet and cancer relationships. Diet is critical to understand in relation to cancer because it is something that people have control over. Given the fact that younger people are experiencing growing rates of colorectal cancer, which is the third deadliest cancer, and diet could be a culprit, offering the public robust dietary guidance to reduce their risk of disease is of enormous public health importance.”

The findings of this study pave the way for more concentrated research on specific foods and how they may affect the risk of CRC contraction.

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