Whole grains reduce colorectal cancer risk

September 12, 2017 in Cancer Prevention, Healthy Eating, Nutrition Topics in the News

Whole grains reduce colorectal cancer risk

Eating whole grains daily, such as brown rice or 100% whole-wheat bread, reduces colorectal cancer risk, with the more you eat the lower the risk, finds a new report by the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) and the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF). This is the first time the organization’s research has linked whole grains independently to lower cancer risk.

Processed meats increase risk

The study also found that hot dogs, bacon and other processed meats consumed regularly increase the risk of colorectal cancer. And, there was strong evidence that physical activity protects against it.

The findings from this comprehensive report point strongly to the role diet and lifestyle play in the prevention of colorectal cancer.

The new report evaluated the scientific research worldwide on how diet, weight and physical activity affect colorectal cancer risk. The report analyzed 99 studies, including data on 29 million people, of whom over a quarter of a million were diagnosed with colorectal cancer. 

Other factors found to increase colorectal cancer include: 

  • Eating high amounts of red meat (above 500 grams per week), such as beef or pork 
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Consuming two or more daily alcoholic drinks (30 grams of alcohol), such as wine or beer

Lowering risk with fibre, activity and grains

The report concluded that eating approximately three servings (90 grams) of whole grains daily reduces the risk of colorectal cancer by 17 percent. 

It adds to previous evidence showing that foods containing fibre decreases the risk of this cancer.

Related: Fibre from whole grains linked to improved survival from colorectal cancer

For physical activity, people who are more physically active have a lower risk of colon cancer compared to those who do very little physical activity. Here, the decreased risk was apparent for colon and not rectal cancer.

Fish, fruits and vegetables, emerging evidence

The report found other links between diet and colorectal cancer that were visible but not as clear. There was limited evidence that risk increases with a low intake of vegetables and fruit. A higher risk was observed for intakes of less than 100 grams per day (about a cup) of each.

Links to lowering risk of colorectal cancer was found for fish and foods containing vitamin C. Oranges, strawberries and spinach are all foods high in vitamin C. 

While the research continues to emerge for these foods and nutrients, it points to the power of a plant-based diet. Experts say, "Replacing some of your refined grains with whole grains and eating mostly plant foods, such as fruits, vegetables and beans, will give you a diet packed with cancer-protective compounds and help you manage your weight, which is so important to lower risk."

Source: American Institute for Cancer Research

All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.