High fibre diet shown to protect from colon cancer risk

May 7, 2003 in Cancer Prevention, Gastrointestinal Health, Nutrition Topics in the News

High fibre diet shown to protect from colon cancer risk

It seems that fiber can reduce bowel cancer risk, scientists said last Friday.

A massive study of European eating habits and U.S. research into diet and early signs of bowel, or colorectal, cancer show consuming foods rich in fiber cuts the risk of developing the disease, which affects more than 940,000 people in the world each year.

The findings contradict earlier research that suggested fiber did not protect against bowel cancer, but the scientists said people surveyed in previous studies were probably not eating enough fiber to show an effect on disease risk.

The research, involving more than half a million people in 10 European countries, was the biggest study done on diet and cancer, said Bingham, head of the diet and cancer group at the British Medical Research Council's Dunn Human Nutrition Unit in Cambridge, England. It suggested that if people who ate less than the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day doubled their intake of fiber the risk of bowel cancer could be slashed by 40%.

Researchers at the National Cancer Institute in Rockville, Maryland, found similar results in their study of nearly 3,600 people with non-malignant colon adenoma, polyps which can be precursors of bowel cancer, and almost 34,000 other people. In the study high intakes of dietary fiber, especially from grains, cereals and fruits, was associated with lower risk of colon adenoma.

The European study showed different sources of fiber among people in the 10 countries, but the researchers said it did not seem to matter where it came from. People with the lowest risk were eating five or more portions of fruit and vegetables a day plus the equivalent of five slices of whole-meal bread.

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