Singapore Chinese have experienced a rapid transition toward a pattern of disease in which lifestyle-related, chronic, degenerative diseases are major public health concerns. The rates of colorectal carcinoma have increased 2-fold over the last 3 decades. It has long been known that dietary factors play a role in the risk of this disease, although studies in Asian populations, with their unique dietary intake, have been few.
The authors conducted a population-based case-control study that included 121 Chinese patients with colorectal carcinoma and 222 healthy control participants who provided information on usual intake of major food groups in the preceding 3 years, physical activity, family history of colorectal carcinoma, and demographic variables through an in-person questionnaire.
High intake of red meat, but not other meats, indicated a predisposition to risk of colorectal carcinoma (adjusted odds ratio [OR] for the highest tertile vs. the lowest tertile, 2.2; 95% confidence interval [95%CI], 1.1–4.2). A low vegetable intake also was associated with a higher risk, and the combined effect appeared to be additive. Those in the highest tertile of meat intake and the lowest quartile of vegetable intake had an OR of 2.6 (95%CI, 1.0–6.7). The authors observed a slight, albeit nonsignificant, positive association with foods high in refined sugars. There was no association observed with fruit or soy-legume intake in this study. Among nondietary variables, a family history of colorectal carcinoma conferred a significant increase in risk (OR, 6.7; 95% CI 2.4–18.7).
Meat intake and vegetable intake were associated significantly with risk of colorectal carcinoma in this Asian population, and further studies on the effects of changes in these specific types of food may shed light on how best to reduce the rapid increase in rates in similar populations. Cancer 2002;95:2390–6. © 2002 American Cancer Society.