Not so healthy: A cheese-heavy diet could raise your risk of bladder cancer, warn scientists
A daily helping of cheese could increase the risk of bladder cancer, research suggests.
Eating more than 53g – roughly the same size as a small chocolate bar – raises the chance of the disease by 50 per cent.
A daily portion of olive oil, on the other hand, can more than halve the risk of getting the disease.
Researchers set out to discover if saturated fats, such as those found in meat and dairy products, made cancer more likely and healthier fats, such as olive oil, offered some protection.
They studied the eating habits of 200 bladder cancer victims and compared them with 386 volunteers who had not developed tumours.
The results showed eating cheese had little effect unless the amount exceeded 53g a day. After that, the risk went up by more than half.
But the Dutch and Belgian researchers stressed the numbers of people in the study may be too small to conclude that cheese is a major health threat and called for further investigations to verify their findings, which were published in the European Journal of Cancer.
Other foods, such as fish, chicken, eggs and margarine, appeared to have little effect.It is thought that diets high in saturated fat may explain why western populations have the highest rates of bladder cancer in the world.
The Mediterranean diet, rich in olive oil and plant foods, may cut the odds but high smoking rates in the region mean similar numbers are affected as in northern Europe.
Around 10,000 people a year in the UK fall victim to the disease and smokers are four times more likely to get it than non-smokers.
Other risk factors include exposure to harmful chemicals in the workplace and repeated bouts of bladder infections.
But studies have produced conflicting evidence on whether different types of fats prevent cancer or increase the chances of it occurring.
UK cheese consumption has risen by almost 13 per cent in the last decade. In 1997, most people were eating around 103g a week. But by 2009, that had risen to 116g.
In a report on their findings, the researchers said: ‘We found a potentially protective effect from a high intake of olive oil and a suggestive increased risk from high cheese consumption.
‘But these results need to be confirmed by other studies.’
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