A comparison of diets of blacks and whites in three areas of the United States
Dietary factors may contribute to the increased cancer risk of blacks. As a first step to explore this hypothesis, we examined food frequency data obtained by interview with 1,976 adults (881 blacks and 1,095 whites) randomly selected from three areas of the United States. The a priori hypothesis was that blacks were more likely to consume diets low in fruits and vegetables and/or high in fat, particularly saturated fat. Contrary to expectation, blacks were more frequent consumers of fruits and vegetables considered to be protective against cancer (e.g., citrus fruits, cruciferous vegetables, and vegetables rich in vitamins A and C). Intake of both total and saturated fat was slightly lower among blacks than whites. This analysis does not rule out a role for these dietary factors in the etiology of cancer but indicates that ascribing the excess cancer risk among blacks to their frequency of fruit and vegetable consumption or intake of fat per se is inadequate. This suggests that alternative dietary explanations for the racial disparity in cancer risk should be pursued in future studies.