May 22 (UPI) -- Eating too much of certain foods and not enough of others may be contributing to preventable cancers, new research shows.
More than 80,000 invasive cancers diagnosed in 2015 may be linked to diet-related causes, according to new findings published Wednesday in JNCI Cancer Spectrum. That accounts for 5.2 percent of all cancers in the United States.
Those rates compare to between 4 percent to 6 percent of cancers linked to alcohol, 7 percent to 8 percent linked to being overweight or obese, and 2 percent to 3 percent linked to a sedentary lifestyle.
"Diet is an important risk factor for cancer that is amenable to intervention," researchers wrote in the study. "Estimating the cancer burden associated with diet informs evidence-based priorities for nutrition policies to reduce cancer burden in the United States."
To access the cancer risk associated with these diets, the researchers looked at data from the World Cancer Research Fund International and the American Institute for Cancer Research Third Expert Report.
Colorectal cancers made up 38.3 percent of all diet-related cancers, while mouth, pharynx and larynx cancers accounted for 25.9 percent of all incidences.
About 16 percent of diet-related cancers were linked to obesity-mediated pathways.
Not eating enough whole grains was linked to the largest number and proportion of cancer cases. After low grain intake, the researchers report that, in order, the next greatest links were to not taking in enough dairy, eating too much high processed meat, too little vegetables and fruit, too much red meat, and too much sugar-sweetened drinks also contributed to the cancer numbers.
The researchers say sugar-sweetened drinks and obesity are linked to 13 forms of cancer. They also say that men, Americans between ages 45 and 64, black people and Hispanics had the highest rates of diet-related cancers.
"Our findings underscore the opportunity to reduce cancer burden and disparities in the United States by improving food intake," said Fang Fang Zhang, a researcher at Tufts University, said in a press release.