People with Lynch syndrome who eat a lot of snack foods were found to be twice as likely to develop colorectal adenomas as are others with Lynch syndrome whose intake of such foods is lower, according to a recent analysis.

Lynch syndrome, often referred to as hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer, is an inherited cancer of the digestive tract, particularly the large intestine and rectum. People with this condition have an increased risk of developing cancers of the stomach, small intestine, liver, gallbladder ducts, upper urinary tract, brain, skin, prostate, endometrium, and ovaries at an early age.

Because dietary factors influence the development of colorectal cancer, Akke Botma, PhD, MSc, and colleagues assessed the relationship between dietary patterns and colorectal adenomas in persons with Lynch syndrome. Botma, of the Division of Human Nutrition at Wageningen University in Wageningen, the Netherlands, and her fellow researchers collected dietary information from 486 people with Lynch syndrome.

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During a median follow-up of 20 months, colorectal adenomas were detected in 58 participants. Persons who had higher intakes of fast-food snacks, chips, fried snacks, or other snacks had double the risk of developing colorectal adenomas compared with those who ate few such foods (hazard ratio 2.16). Persons with a diet heavy in meat were 1.7 times more likely than those with lower meat intakes to develop the precancerous lesions. Respondents in the highest tertile of a dietary pattern identified as “prudent” were 27% less likely than those in the lowest tertile of that dietary pattern to develop colorectal adenomas.

“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,” noted Botma in a statement issued by Wiley, publisher of the journal Cancer, in which the findings of Botma’s group were reported.

Although more research is needed to confirm the results of this observational study, the investigators noted that their findings are in keeping with those observed in studies of sporadic colorectal cancer.