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A high dietary acid load is associated with cancer risk

This meta-analysis of 10 observational studies found that, compared to the lowest dietary acid load, the highest was associated with a 66% higher risk of cancer.

Background

Some dietary components — such as animal proteins and cereal grains — are acidogenic and may increase the dietary acid load (DAL), whereas other dietary components — such as fruits and vegetables — produce alkali precursors and may reduce DAL. Although a number of studies have examined the association between DAL and the risk of various cancers, a meta-analysis pooling the results of the available studies was lacking.

The study

This meta-analysis of 10 observational studies examined the association between DAL and the risk of cancer. Of the 10 studies, 7 were case-control studies that included 2,618 cases and 5,442 controls, and 3 were cohort studies that included 142,228 participants.

The indicators used to estimate the DAL were potential renal acid load (PRAL) in 9 studies and net endogenous acid production (NEAP) in 7 studies. The types of cancers studied were breast (4 studies), colorectal (2), prostate (1), lung (1), pancreas (1), and glioma (1). In most studies, the researchers made statistical adjustments to account for the potential impact of participant age, BMI, smoking status, alcohol consumption, caloric intake, and family history of cancer.

The results

Compared to the lowest DAL, the highest DAL was associated with a 66% higher risk of cancer. This association persisted in subgroup analyses based on participant age, sex, type of cancer, and type of DAL assessment indicator.

All studies were of high methodological quality.

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