Men who eat at least two servings of yogurt each week may be lowering their risk for colorectal cancer, a recent study from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis suggests.
Researchers examined data on 32,606 male and 55,743 female health professionals who had a colonoscopy between 1986 and 2012. Study participants provided detailed information about their health, lifestyle, eating and exercise habits every four years.
Compared to men who didn’t eat any yogurt, those who had at least two servings weekly were 19 percent less likely to develop so-called conventional adenomas, the most common kind of polyps found in the colon and rectum during colonoscopies. The yogurt eaters were also 26 percent less likely to develop adenomas with the highest potential to turn into cancer.
Yogurt consumption has been linked to a lower risk of colon and rectal cancer in previous studies, and some scientists think this may be because yogurt promotes the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut. But less is known about how yogurt might impact the potential for people to develop adenomas.
To minimize the risk of colorectal cancer, adults should start getting screened for these tumors at age 45, according to the American Cancer Society. Screening can catch tumors sooner, when they’re smaller and easier to treat, increasing survival odds.
Abnormal polyps can take 10 to 15 years to develop into colon cancer, and some adenomas found with screening may never become cancerous or prove fatal.
In the study, yogurt consumption didn’t appear to impact the risk of pre-cancerous polyps in women.
The study wasn’t designed to prove whether or how yogurt consumption might impact cancer risk. It also didn’t examine how many people with polyps went on to develop cancer.
Probiotic bacteria may be protective
Probiotics may help reduce inflammation, a cancer risk factor, as well as bind and neutralize certain carcinogens in the colon.
Other diet strategies to reduce colorectal cancer risk include eating vegetables, fruits and whole grains every day, limiting red meat, especially processed meats like hot dogs and lunch meats, and limiting alcohol.
Source: Gut, online June 17, 2019.
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