Unhealthy snacks `may affect cancer risk in patients with Lynch syndrome`

Washington: Loading up on snack foods may increase cancer risk in individuals with an inborn susceptibility to colorectal and other cancers, researchers say.

The new study suggests that an eating pattern low in snack foods could help these individuals, who have a condition called Lynch syndrome, lower their risk.

Lynch syndrome is an inherited condition characterized by a high risk of developing colorectal cancer, endometrial cancer and other cancers, at an early age.

The syndrome is caused by mutations in genes involved with repairing DNA within cells.

Numerous studies have investigated associations between certain foods and colorectal cancer, and now there is general agreement that red and processed meats and alcohol consumption can increase individuals’ risk.

Only a few studies have evaluated lifestyle factors and colorectal cancer in patients with Lynch syndrome, though.

To investigate, Akke Botma from the Wageningen University in the Netherlands, and her colleagues collected dietary information from 486 individuals with Lynch syndrome. During an average follow-up of 20 months, colorectal polyps (precancerous lesions) were detected in 58 people in the study.

“We saw that Lynch syndrome patients who had an eating pattern with higher intakes of snack foods—like fast food snacks, chips, or fried snacks—were twice as likely to develop these polyps as Lynch syndrome patients having a pattern with lower intakes of snack foods,” Dr. Botma said.

The findings of the study suggest that certain dietary patterns have an influence on the development of polyps in individuals with Lynch syndrome.

“Unfortunately, this does not mean that eating a diet low in snack foods will prevent any polyps from developing, but it might mean that those Lynch syndrome patients who eat a lot of snack foods might have more polyps than if they ate less snack foods,” Botma added.

The study has been published online in the journal CANCER.