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High Fibre Consumption Is Associated With Reduced Risk of Colon Cancer

Posted on Tuesday, 15 November, 2011 by anthony

High Fibre Consumption Lowers Colon Cancer Risk

Researchers from the Imperial College London have found that the risk of colon/bowel cancer can be reduced by 10% for every 10g/day of dietary fibre and cereal fibre consumed (Aune et al., 2011b). The researchers also found that there was a 20% reduction in risk when three servings (approximately 90g/day) of whole grain was consumed daily. Interestingly, they observed further reductions in risk with higher intakes of whole grain and dietary fibre suggesting that bowel cancer rates appeared to decreased linearly with increased consumption. The research was carried out by performing a meta analysis of 25 previous research studies that involved a total of 1.9 million people.

The results are particularly important since Colon cancer accounts for 9.7% of all cancer cases worldwide and is the third most common type of cancer. It is believed that a number of dietary and lifestyle play a role in increasing the risk of bowel cancer including: consumption of red meats and processed meats, excessive alcohol consumption, leading a sedentary lifestyle and/or sitting down for prolonged periods per day.

The analysis suggests that the greatest benefit came when the consumption of cereal fibre and whole grain was increased. In addition to the reduced risk of colon/bowel cancer an increase in the consumption of dietary fibre and whole grains is believed to have a number of other health benefits including:  a reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, benefits for weight management/weight loss, and possibly a general reduction in overall mortality. Good sources of whole grains include: whole grain breads, whole grain wraps, cereals, brown pasta, brown rice, porridge, and oatmeal.

The researchers were unable to find any association between the intake of fibre from fruit, vegetables, or legumes and a reduction in risk of colon cancer. However, the authors pointed out that in a previous study they had found a reduction in risk with high intakes of fruit and vegetables  (Aune et al., 2011a). The authors commented that the previous results suggested that there was a “potential role of components other than fibre in fruits and vegetables in explaining this result”. In fact, most current research has found that the main beneficial components that contribute to improved health and reduced cancer risk, from fruit and vegetables are the antioxidant molecules – most fruits and vegetables contain relatively high levels of antioxidants which act to protect cells from the damaging effects of free radicals.


Aune D, Lau R, Chan DS, Vieira R, Greenwood DC, Kampman E, et al. (2011a) Nonlinear reduction in risk for colorectal cancer by fruit and vegetable intake based on meta-analysis of prospective studies. Gastroenterology .141:106-18.

Aune, D., Chan D. S., Lau, R., Vieira, R., Greenwood, D. C., Kampman, E. and Norat, T. (2011b) Dietary fibre, whole grains, and risk of colorectal cancer: systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective studies. BMJ 2011;343:bmj.d6617

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