Source: CVDaily Feed

With almost $500,000 of grant money from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a Utah State University professor is beginning a study this month into the western type diet and its effects on colon cancer.

Abby Benninghoff, project director, is a faculty member in the College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences. She said the study will address two key questions.

“The first question is whether this western diet increases cancer risk if you are exposed over multiple generations. There is a lot of evidence that an energy dense, nutrient poor diet (our typical western diet) has negative health effects, especially with cancer. But no one has ever looked at this over multiple generations.”

That multiple generation testing, she said, will be done with an animal model which has a short breeding time, using laboratory mice.

“That will allow us to treat grandparents, then the children of the grandparents, and so on, so that we get four generations. Obviously, a study like this would be very difficult to do in people because we don’t have the resources to study four generations of humans.

“Putting it more simply,” she said, “we are trying to determine if your grandmother ate a poor diet, will green tea be beneficial for your or not?”

Benninghoff said the second question asks whether or not foods that act as cancer fighting agents, specifically green tea, will benefit those with colon cancer.

“We want to know if consumption of green tea will stop cancer from happening in the first place. Green tea is the world’s most consumed beverage behind water and has a lot of health benefits and cancer prevention is one of those.

“We’re hoping to learn in this study whether green tea is beneficial for certain populations, perhaps a population that has ancestral exposure to this western diet.”

She said most cancer prevention studies will focus on a single component of the diet, such as high fat.

“But humans not only eat diets that are high in fat, but also low in a lot of healthful micronutrients, certain vitamins and minerals. And we think there could be an interaction of these different diet components that influences cancer risk.”

This study amounts to a three-year project.

“It’s going to take a couple of years to generate all of the subjects in the study to access the cancer outcome and to do some additional molecular analyses so we can understand what is going on in the cells of the colon to get an idea about what is the cell response to the diet.

“That will help us develop better strategies for prevention in the future.”