There is no association between consumption of fat, protein, or meat and kidney cancer, according to a pooled analysis of prospective studies.
The incidence of renal cell cancer is increasing worldwide, but the cause of the increase remains obscure. Epidemiological studies have produced inconsistent results with respect to an association between consumption of fat, protein, and meat and kidney cancer risk.
In the current study, Jung Eun Lee, Sc.D., of the Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston and colleagues analyzed data from 13 prospective studies that enrolled 530,469 women and 244,483 men. All study participants filled out food questionnaires when they enrolled in the study. A total of 1,478 renal cancer cases were identified in the study populations during follow-up.
When the researchers compared the fat, protein and meat intakes of the participants who developed kidney cancer with those who did not develop the disease, they found no association with fat, protein, or meat intake after considering the influence of other known kidney cancer risk factors.
"Our data do not support the hypotheses that intakes of fat, protein, or meat from animal sources are associated with an increased risk of renal cell cancer," the authors conclude.
In an accompanying editorial, Victor Kipnis, Ph.D., of the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md., and Laurence S. Freedman, Ph.D., of the Gertner Institute for Epidemiology and Health Policy Research in Tel Hashomer, Israel, discuss the impact of measurement error on studies that assess the association between diet and cancer. Even when researchers make substantial effort to account for measurement error, as Lee and colleagues did, it can still be a problem.
"Continued caution is required when interpreting associations, or the lack thereof, between dietary factors and disease," the editorialists conclude. "Only when multiple studies with different designs in diverse populations produce consistent, robust results, can the evidence regarding an association be sufficiently persuasive."
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