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Diets May Raise Cancer Risk for Poor, Urban Women

Most get too little of nutrients that cut their odds for malignancy, study finds

FRIDAY, Nov. 30 (HealthDay News) -- It can be difficult for women in America's inner cities to eat in ways that may help prevent cancer.

That's the conclusion of a Johns Hopkins University study that looked at the dietary habits of 156 black women living in 11 public housing communities in Washington, D.C.

The researchers found that about 61 percent of the women failed to meet more than one of the five dietary goals suggested to reduce the risk of developing cancer: adequate consumption of fruits and vegetables; low percentage of fat intake; moderate caloric intake; no alcohol consumption; and adherence to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Healthy Eating Index, a measure of overall quality of diet.

Less than 1 percent met all five dietary goals, and only 15 percent reported eating at least five servings of fruits or vegetables a day.

"Many women drank soda, and ate convenience and prepared foods, even when they sat down with their families for a meal. Younger adults, especially, seem to lack the skills to build a well-balanced diet -- skills that our survey shows that older generations of women still possess," Ann C. Klassen, an associate professor in the department of health, behavior and society at Hopkins' Bloomberg School of Public Health, said in a prepared statement.

The study was scheduled to be presented Wednesday at the American Association for Cancer Research conference on The Science of Cancer Health Disparities in Racial/Ethnic Minorities and the Medically Underserved, in Atlanta.

"African-American women, in general, face a worse cancer incidence and mortality rate than most other ethnic groups, and poor African-American women are at an even greater disadvantage. Improving diet is one effective way to help women lower their risk for developing cancer," Klassen said.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about cancer prevention.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American Association for Cancer Research, news release, Nov. 28, 2007

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