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Fiber benefit found { May 2 2003 }

Original Source Link: (May no longer be active),0,897840.story?coll=ny-health-headlines,0,897840.story?coll=ny-health-headlines

Fiber Benefit Found
By Delthia Ricks

May 2, 2003

A high-fiber diet can substantially reduce the risk of colorectal cancer, scientists report in two analyses that could reignite the debate about dietary fiber's role in tumor prevention.

Two studies - one by American scientists and another by a British team - appearing in the medical journal, The Lancet, find that fibrous foods are associated with a lowered risk of tumors in the distal colon, the region on the left that connects to the rectum. Grains, cereals and fruit provided the strongest protection, U.S. researchers found.

The studies run counter to two reports published three years ago, which indicated that a high-fiber diet did not prevent recurrence of polyps in people who had been treated for the precancerous lesions. Both of those smaller investigations strongly countered prevailing wisdom, which for years suggested that high-fiber diets could help repel the disease. This year colorectal cancer is expected to kill more than 57,000 people in the United States.

Dr. Ulrike Peters of the National Cancer Institute's division of cancer epidemiology and genetics said the new work reaffirms the benefits of dietary fiber, and underscores that cancer risk can be reduced by following simple measures.

"What we investigated was total fiber intake," said Peters, lead researcher in the U.S. study that compared 33,971 people who tested negative for intestinal polyps to 3,951 people who had been treated for at least one colon tumor.

"We asked all participants about their usual diet over the last 12 months. We asked about their intake of grains fruits and vegetables. Then we divided these responses among the various food sources of fiber, and it was from that information we found a reduced risk in those who ate grains cereal and fruit fiber. We didn't see a protective effect for vegetable fiber."

Peters could not explain why vegetables did not confer a protective effect, although she noted that overcooking can reduce vegetables' fibrous content. Overall, people with high-fiber diets had a 27 percent lower cancer risk.

Dr. Sheila Bingham, who led the British study, concluded people who eat little fiber can reduce colorectal cancer risk by 40 percent if they double fiber consumption. Bingham's study involved more than 500,000 people in 10 European countries.
Copyright 2003, Newsday, Inc.

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