Diets Low in Fruits, Vegetables and Fiber May Increase Colon Cancer Risk

Diets Low in Fruits, Vegetables and Fiber May Increase Colon Cancer Risk

A recent study published in the journal Cancer Causes and Control, indicates that diets, that include a very low intake of fruits, vegetables and whole grains may increase the risk of colon cancer.

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer related deaths in the United States. Colorectal cancer is a malignancy that involves both the large intestines (colon) and a distal portion of the colon known as the rectum. Although there is no single known cause for colon cancer, certain risk factors have been found to increase the risk of colon cancer. Risk factors for colorectal cancer include colorectal polyps, a family history of colorectal cancer, and a history of ulcerative colitis. Diet has long been suspected as a contributing factor to the risk of developing colorectal cancer; however, a direct link has so far been unclear.

This recent study was conducted between 1992 and 1993 and included 62,609 men and 70,554 women who completed questionnaires on medical history, diet and lifestyle behaviors. In 1997 when the results were examined, 298 cases of colon cancer had been diagnosed among the men, and 210 cases had been diagnosed among the women. Dietary factors were determined to have no effect on the incidence of colon cancer. However, a 30% reduction in the risk of developing colon cancer was observed in the men with the highest vegetable intake. Women were found to have an increased risk of colorectal cancer when their diets included very small amounts of fruit.

Researchers concluded that although diets high in fruits, vegetable, and fiber were not related to lower risks of colon cancer, diets with very low intakes of fruits, vegetables and fiber might increase the risk of colon cancer.

Reference: Cullough M.. A Prospective Study of Whole Grains, Fruits, Vegetables and Colon Cancer Risk. Cancer Causes and Control. 2004; 14: 959-970.

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