Letter to the Editor on Diet and Cancer: “No Myth”

Photo: Flickr/ToastyTreat
As we mentioned in a previous post on CNiC, an article in the New York Times last week called the link between diet and cancer risk, in essence, a “myth.”  In that post, we note that “the article’s conclusions [about the links between diet and cancer] demonstrate a lack of understanding of the science.”  To further make that point – and address a couple others – we also responded with a letter to the editor of the New York Times, printed below. 

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

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