We all know fiber is good for us, now we’re learning more about just how good. Eating a diet that’s full of fiber is associated with a lower colon cancer risk factors according to research from Britain and the Netherlands that examined no less than 25 studies on the subject.
Total fiber intake, and fiber that came from whole grains including cereals was most associated with a lower colorectal cancer risk, while fiber from fruits, veggies and legumes was not quite as good in terms of cancer risk.
This isn’t to say that you should cut fruits and veggies from your diet. There were simply not that studies on the influence of these foods on the risk of colon cancer. It may just be a matter of not having enough data. And then, fiber might just be one beneficial part of these foods
Cutting your intake of red and processed meat, as well as limiting alcohol intake are all well studied in terms of reducing the risks of colon cancer. And though fiber is known to be good for us, its role in colorectal cancer, unlike heart disease, is less well researched.
This was the motivation for the team of researchers to scour the medical literature to find 25 well constructed, scientifically sound studies that included over 2 million subjects and looked at combined data.
Comparisons were made between groups who had the highest level of fiber intake each day and those that had the lowest intake. The amounts varied depending on the study, but when the team compared groups who ate the lowest amounts with those who consumed more, they saw some interesting results.
The team discovered a 10 percent risk reduction in cancer of the colon for every 10gm of fiber consumed per day.
The more fiber a subject ate, the more reduction in the risk. This is an association and not due to cause and effect. Over 141,000 novel cases of cancer of the colon are estimated to be diagnosed in the United States this year alone.
The more fiber you take in each day, the better according to researchers.
We know that American’s don’t get the fiber they should. Most of us take in about 15 grams a day, far below the recommended 25 gms of fiber per day for women, 38 grams a day for men. As a point of reference, a slice of wheat bread brings 2 gm of fiber and one cup of oatmeal comes with double that, or 4 grams of fiber.
Eating enough fiber brings lots of benefits including…
1. Improved control over cholesterol levels
2. Improved control over blood sugar
3. Lower risk of hemorrhoids and diverticular disease
4. Less constipation
5. Aids in weight loss
And while experts are still trying to figure out why fiber might bring down colon cancer risk, there are theories. One of the more popular is that fiber might cut the “transit time” of food in the digestive system, so cancer causing chemicals just don’t spend as long inside our bodies. The fiber could also dilute carcinogens that accumulate in the colon itself. It’s important to understand that…
1. Colon cancer likely develops over many years, so starting taking in more fiber during your 50s might not be enough to protect you from getting this form of cancer during your 60s..
2. Where you live and who is around you, even what you do for work can impact your risk as well.
3. Lack of exercise contributes to colon cancer development
4. Other colon cancer risk factors include chronic inflammation, for example inflammatory bowel disease.