Eating more cereals and whole grains could reduce the risk of developing colorectal cancer, a BMJ study says.Researchers from Imperial College London found that for every 10g a day increase in fibre intake, there was a 10% drop in the risk of bowel cancer.
But their analysis of 25 previous studies found that fruit and vegetable fibre did not reduce risk.A cancer charity called for more detailed research on the quantity and type of fibre to eat.
Eating fibre and whole grains is known to help protect against cardiovascular disease, but experts say that any link with colorectal cancer is less clear because studies have not had consistent results.
Reviewing the results of all previous observational studies in this area, researchers in London, Leeds and the Netherlands analysed data provided by almost two million people.Their conclusion, published in the British Medical Journal, is that increasing fibre intake, particularly cereal fibre and whole grains, helps prevent colorectal cancer.
Whole grains include foods such as whole grain breads, brown rice, cereals, oatmeal and porridge.Dagfinn Aune, lead study author and research associate in the department of epidemiology and biostatistics at Imperial College London, said their analysis found a linear association between dietary fibre and colorectal cancer.
“The more of this fibre you eat the better it is. Even moderate amounts have some effect.”Adding three servings (90g per day) of whole grains to diets was linked to a 20% reduction in the risk of colorectal cancer, researchers said.
Cancer Research UK data shows that the lifetime risk of being diagnosed with colorectal cancer in the UK is estimated to be one in 14 (6.9%) for men, and one in 19 for women (5.4%). However, the study said there was no evidence that fibre in fruit and vegetables played a part in reducing risk.