Plant-based diet may reduce bowel cancer risk
Tuesday 29 November 2022
Eating a plant-based diet rich in vegetables, whole grains, nuts and legumes may reduce the risk of bowel cancer in men by more than a fifth, according to research published in BMC Medicine.
A large study that involved 79,952 US-based men found that those who ate the largest amounts of healthy plant-based foods had a 22% lower risk of bowel cancer compared with those who ate the least.
The researchers found no such link for women, of whom 93,475 were included in the research. The team suggested that the link is clearer for men, who have an overall higher risk of bowel cancer.
The authors found the link among men also varied by race and ethnicity. For example, among Japanese American men, the reduced risk of cancer was 20% but it was 24% for white men. The team said more research was needed on the differences between ethnicities.
The food groups were classed as healthy plant foods (whole grains, fruits, vegetables, vegetable oils, nuts, legumes such as lentils and chickpeas, tea and coffee), less healthy plant foods (refined grains, fruit juices, potatoes, added sugars), and animal foods (animal fat, dairy, eggs, fish or seafood, meat).
Dr Lisa Wilde, Director of Research and External Affairs at Bowel Cancer UK, says: "The result from this study adds to the growing evidence that eating a healthy balanced diet, with lots of fruit and vegetables, and reducing the amount of meat we eat, can help reduce your risk of bowel cancer. We're particularly pleased to see more research about reducing the risk of bowel cancer and how it can vary amongst different ethnic groups.
"We know around half of all bowel cancers could be prevented by having a healthier lifestyle, and the good news is that we know what kind of changes can reduce the risk. Like eating plenty of wholegrains and fibre, avoiding processed meat and limiting red meat, being of a healthy body weight, taking part in regular physical activity, stopping smoking and cutting down on alcohol.
"Someone is diagnosed with the disease every 15 minutes in the UK but we can change that. Making lifestyle changes can be a challenge, however we believe it's worth the investment."