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'Western-style' diet reduces risk of death from illness by 10%: study

People with a "western-style" diet heavy on meats, dairy products, bread and coffee are about 10 percent less likely to die from illnesses such as cancer, heart and cerebrovascular disease compared to people without this kind of diet, a study has shown.

    In the study, the frequency and amount of intake of 134 different items of food was monitored in approximately 80,000 Japanese men and women, aged between 40 and 69, in nine prefectures between the 1990s and 2012. The project was conducted by a team including the National Cancer Center Japan.

    It is known from studies of Japanese subjects that coffee reduces the risk of developing liver cancer and endometrial cancer, and that calcium consumed from dairy products reduces the risk of stroke. In addition, people with a largely western-style diet have a relatively low sodium intake, and that this contributes to the lower risk of death by illness.

    With regard to people who follow a "healthy" diet consisting of foods such as vegetables, soybean products, mushrooms and seaweed, the risk of dying of illness is about 20 percent lower that for those who do not have this kind of diet. Furthermore, people with a "healthy" diet had about a 30 percent lower risk of dying from heart or cerebrovascular disease.

    "There is a tendency to think that a western-style diet increases the risk of death. However, it is in fact desirable to consume a moderate amount of meat and dairy products, as they are a source of protein, in addition to eating healthy items such as vegetables and soybean products," said Tetsuya Mizoue, chief researcher at the National Center for Global Health and Medicine's Department of Epidemiology and Prevention.

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