Colon cancer is a greatly feared condition which is effected by our diet. Imperial College London reported via Alpha Galileo on April 27, 2015, diet swapping has dramatic effects on colon cancer risk for both Americans and Africans. Researchers observed dramatic effects on risk factors for colon cancer when American and African volunteers switched their diets for just two weeks. Western diets are high in protein and fat but they are low in fiber and are therefore thought to increase colon cancer risk in comparison to African diets which are high in fiber and low in fat and protein.
A new study has confirmed that a high fiber diet can significantly decrease colon cancer risk, and has showed that bacteria which live in the gut play an important role in this effect. This is important because colon cancer is the fourth most common cause of death from cancer across the world. There are greater than 600,000 deaths per year from colon cancer. Colon cancer rates are much higher in the western world than in Africa or the Far East, yet in the United States it is African Americans who have the greatest burden of this disease.
In order to investigate the possible roles of diet and gut bacteria in the development of colon cancer researchers studied a group of 20 African American volunteers and another group of 20 participants from rural South Africa. Over the course of two weeks the two groups swapped their diets under very tightly controlled conditions.
At the beginning of this study almost half of the American subjects had polyps. These are abnormal growths in the bowel lining which may prove to be harmless but which can progress to cancer. None of the African participants had these abnormalities. After just two weeks on the African diet the American group had markedly less inflammation in the colon and decreased biomarkers of cancer risk. Among the Africans measurements which indicate cancer risk dramatically increased after two weeks on the western diet.
This study has been published in the journal Nature Communications. The findings in this study suggest that people can substantially decrease their risk of colon cancer by eating more fiber. Although this finding in itself is not new it was surprising to see how quickly and dramatically the risk markers can switch around in both groups following a change of diet.
It is suggested by this study that westernization of the diet sets off changes in biomarkers of colon cancer risk in the colonic mucosa within just two weeks. It is also important to note that a change in diet from a westernized type to a traditional African high fiber low fat diet decreased these biomarkers of cancer risk within just two weeks. It should be remembered that it is not likely to ever be too late to change what you eat to change your risk of getting colon cancer. A high fiber low fat diet as usual appears best.