April 21, 2014
To the Editor:
Re: “An Apple a Day, and Other Myths.”
There are strong links between the foods we eat and our cancer risk – for the author, George Johnson, to conclude otherwise is an incorrect interpretation of evidence that sends the wrong message at a critical time in the health of the nation.
Cancer will become the top cause of death in the United States within the next few years, and despite hopes to the contrary, it is very unlikely that advances in diagnosis and treatment will have a major impact on the burden of the disease in the foreseeable future. Yet, today, strong evidence shows that 50 percent or more of all cancers is preventable with relatively simple behaviors – including eating a healthy diet.
Good studies show that too much alcohol, red meat, and processed meat as well as inadequate fruits, vegetables, and folate (found in many plant foods) have important links to cancer risk or mortality. And other associations are developing.
We need to do all that we can to address the growing burden of cancer. A healthy diet is one established way to do that, and that is no myth.
Graham A. Colditz, MD, DrPH