Shocking results of what happened when scientists put African Americans on African Diet...

In recent years, public health experts have acknowledged that lowering the risk of the cancer among people of color in the United States, particularly African Americans, will require diet and environmental changes that can only come about through a combination of government intervention and individual fortitude.

However, questions remain about what the ideal food selection should look like for African Americans, a group plagued by significantly high rates of obesity, heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and other physical ailments. A recent study suggests the answer may lie in the diets of their counterparts across the Atlantic Ocean in the rural parts of the Motherland.

In a study conducted at the University of Pittsburgh, 20 African Americans and 20 South Africans switched diets for two weeks. In this time, the Africans consumed traditional American food — meat and cheese high in fat content — while African Americans took on a traditional African diet — high in fiber and low in fat, with plenty of vegetables, beans, and cornmeal, with little meat.

After the exchange, researchers performed colonoscopies on both groups and found that those in the African diet group increased the production of butyrate, a fatty acid proven to protect against colon cancer. Members of the American diet group, on the other hand, developed changes in their gut that scientists say precede the development of cancerous cells.

“We wanted to show how diet changes cancer, so we used biomarkers and looked at the proliferation rate that has been tied to cancer,” Dr. Stephen J. O’Keefe, the lead researcher, told ThinkProgress. “We were astounded by the gravity and the magnitude of the changes. In Africans, the diet changes produced microbiota that were cancerous. All this happened within two weeks and was quite astounding. The more we talk about diet, this will be important for all Americans, but most importantly African Americans,” said O’Keefe, a professor of medicine in the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh.

Although more than 90 percent of Americans don’t know there’s a link between diet and cancer risk, the American Society for Clinical Oncology recently announced that obesity will soon surpass tobacco as the leading cause of cancer. Since the 1970s, rates of obesity have more than tripled, causing nearly 1 in 5 cancer deaths and $50 billion in healthcare spending, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Previous research has connected obesity with aggressive breast cancer in postmenopausal women and prostate cancer in older men.

This risk factors are exacerbated for people of color. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention designates heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes among the top 10 leading causes of death for African Americans. African Americans are 1.8 times more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes and 1.4 times more likely to be obese than their Latino and white counterparts. This holds especially true for those who have sedentary lifestyle, most likely brought on unsafe neighborhood conditions, inadequate access to parks and recreation centers, and long distances to important locations, as outlined in recent reports.

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