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Saturated and animal fats ‘could increase bladder cancer risk in men’

High cholesterol is linked to bladder cancer, according to a new study (Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA)
High cholesterol is linked to bladder cancer, according to a new study (Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA)

Consuming too much saturated and animal fats could increase the risk of bladder cancer in men, new research suggests.

A study funded by the World Cancer Research Fund found that while men increased their risk of cancer through unhealthy fats, women who ate monounsaturated fatty acids and plant-based oils – such as olive oil, coconut oil and sesame oil – decreased their risk of bladder cancer.

Cholesterol is a fatty substance that is mostly made by the body in the liver.

Eating too much saturated fat in the diet can raise ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol levels, which raises the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Foods high in saturated fats often come from animals and include fatty cuts of meat, sausages and pies, butter, cheese, chocolate, biscuits, cakes and pastries.

In the new study, led by researchers at Maastricht University in The Netherlands, experts looked at data from 11 studies on fat intake relating to 2,731 cases of bladder cancer and 544,452 cases without bladder cancer.

Those people in the study filled in a questionnaire, and their intake of fats and oils were calculated in grams per day per 1,000 calories.

The results showed that, among women, those who ate the most monounsaturated fatty acids had a 27% reduced risk of bladder cancer than those who ate the least. No such effect was found for men.

Among men, those eating the most bad fats had a 37% increased bladder cancer risk but no such effect was found for women.

Dr Panagiota Mitrou, director of research and innovation at the World Cancer Research Fund, said: “We already know some of the risk factors for bladder cancer, which causes over 200,000 deaths worldwide, including gender, smoking, age and occupation.

“What’s new about this research is that it provides an insight into the role of fats and oils in the development of bladder cancer. In the future, we could see tailored dietary advice for bladder cancer prevention.”

Lead investigator, Dr Anke Wesselius, said: “How fats and oils affect the development of bladder cancer hasn’t yet been fully explored, though saturated fats play a big part in many Western diets.

“These findings suggest that the quality of fat consumed has an impact on the likelihood of developing bladder cancer, and men could see a benefit in reducing levels of animal fats in their diets.”