Canola may put a dent in cancer risk

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The September 2012 issue of the Harvard Health Letter arrived a few days ago. I had subscribed to it in late 2010. One of the features is an Ask Your Doctor column in which the questions are usually answered by the editor in chief.

A lady had written asking about the safety of canola oil. She had been using a lot of it in her cooking but had heard that it could make her husbands prostate cancer worse.

The reply was that she had nothing to worry about. He stated that 20 years ago Harvard had done a study which found that diets rich in animal fats raised the risk of prostate cancer by over 60 percent. Fortunately fat from plant sources did not raise the prostate cancer risk at all.

Interestingly, for what it is worth, a study published in the journal Carcinogenesis in 2011 showed that putting canola oil in the diet of mice actually lowered the prostate cancer risk. Whether it would do the same for men is apparently not known at this time.

Dr. Don Casebolt of College Place is a retired physician who is passionate about preventive medicine. He spent four years as a medical officer in the U.S. Navy, the last 2 1/2 years as a flight surgeon. He also worked on the Navajo Reservation for 22 years.

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