Do you eat lots of fiber in the hope of preventing colon cancer? Americans need more fiber in their diet – and most aren’t getting enough of it. How much does the average person need for optimal health? If you’re male, between 30 and 38 grams of fiber per day – while women need at least 25 to 30 grams. But what about its effect on the colon? Does fiber prevent colon cancer – as many experts believe?
Does Fiber Prevent Colon Cancer?
Lifestyle and diet play an important role in reducing colon cancer risk, but dietary fiber may not have as much impact on colon cancer risk as originally thought. Most of the recent studies looking at this issue have been inconsistent. Two large, well conducted studies recently cast further doubt on whether eating lots of fiber really reduces the risk of colon cancer.
More bad news. A fiber-rich diet may not reduce the risk of colon polyps, which can be precursors to colon cancer. (Although many colon polyps are completely benign) Two studies published in the New England Journal of medicine showed that eating lots of fiber had no impact whatsoever on the risk of colon polyps – although these studies were short in duration and colon polyps can take years to develop.
All in all, the argument for eating lots of fiber to prevent colon polyps or colon cancer isn’t as compelling as most people would like to believe.
There Are Still Good Reasons to Eat a Fiber-Rich Diet
Don’t be too quick to dismiss fiber – despite these studies. Even if a diet high in fiber doesn’t directly reduce the risk of colon cancer or colon polyps, it does boost digestive healthy by preventing constipation and lowering the risk of diverticulitis. In addition, a high-fiber diet lowers the risk of heart disease and diabetes – two of the more common chronic diseases that affect Americans. There’s also evidence that eating lots of fiber reduces estrogen levels – and, probably, the risk of breast cancer.
What Diet Factors Reduce Colon Cancer Risk?
If eating lots of fiber isn’t the best way to prevent colon cancer, what is? Limiting red meat may help to reduce colon cancer risk – especially processed meats. Eating a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D may also be beneficial. As you might expect, loading up on fruits and veggies reduces the risk; but beware of alcohol since it independently increases the risk of colon cancer – possibly by altering the way the body processes folate.
Does Fiber Prevent Colon Cancer: The Bottom Line?
Eating lots of fiber may not reduce colon cancer risk or prevent colon polyps, but it has other health benefits that are too good to pass up. To reduce colon cancer risk, limit red meat and alcohol, and fill up on fruits, veggies, and calcium and vitamin D rich foods – and don’t forget to exercise. Exercise is another effective weapon in the war against colon cancer.
Medscape.com. “Dietary Fiber and Colorectal Cancer Risk: A Nested Case'”Control Study using Food Diaries”
The Doctor Will See You Now website. “Can Diet Prevent Colorectal Cancer?: A Dialogue ”
Web Md. “Red-Meat Eaters Risk Colon Cancer”