Healthy living

High-fibre diet cuts bowel cancer risk

diet Whole grains best source of fibre, study finds

A diet rich in fibre, particularly from cereal and whole grains, cuts the risk of developing bowel cancer, a large study has found.

The study, published in the British Medical Journal, found that every 10g per day increase in dietary fibre intake reduced the risk of developing bowel cancer by 10 per cent.

However, there was "no significant evidence" that the fibre in fruit and vegetables helped to reduce the risk.

Eating fibre and whole grains is known to help protect against cardiovascular disease, but the link with the risk of bowel cancer is less clear, as results from past studies have not been consistent.

Whole grain foods include whole grain breads and cereals, oatmeal, brown rice and porridge.

Researchers from Imperial College, London, analysed data from 25 studies involving nearly two million participants.

They found that dietary fibre was clearly linked with a reduction in the risk of developing bowel cancer.

Eating three servings (90g per day) of whole grains reduced the risk of bowel cancer by around 20 per cent.

As past research has linked eating fruit and vegetables to a reduced risk of bowel cancer, the researchers suggested that compounds other than fibre in fruit and vegetables may be responsible for this.

Eating more fibre and whole grains is also likely to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, overweight and obesity, and possibly overall mortality, the researchers added.

They concluded: "A high intake of dietary fibre, particularly from cereal and whole grains, is associated with a reduced risk of bowel cancer."

Bowel cancer is the third most common cancer in the UK. Each year around 40,000 people are diagnosed with the disease, and some 16,000 die from it.

This article was published on Fri 11 November 2011



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