Thoughts on the Japanese cancer conundrum?
So, I was curious to know if you guys had any thoughts about why cancer rates are drastically lower in Japan than in most western nations. Lately I've been wondering why this should be the case.
To explain, the Japanese people are heavy smokers as they easily have twice the percentage of smokers if not more, than the western nations. In addition, Mark has pointed out in a recent "Dear Mark" column that there appears to be some literature linking high conaumption of fermented foods to increased risk for gut and stomach cancers, and the Japanese (along with the other Asian cultures) consume copious amounts of these foods by western standards. Combine these risk factors and it becomes clear that Asian cultures should present with higher cancer rates than the western nations. Yet, this has never been th e case. In fact, the reverse is true. Asian cultures (especially Japan) have consistantly show lower rates of cancer than the west.
So, what is it about their diet or lifestyle that seems to protect them from cancer that the western nations seem to be missing? Is it toeir high levels of tea consumption? Their tendacy to eat lots of sea vegetables? What might be a reasonable explanation for this interesting phenomenon?
I'm curious to hear your thoughts.