December 13, 2005

Fiber in Diet Doesn’t Cut Colon Cancer Risk – Study

CHICAGO -- Eating lots of fiber does not lower a person's risk of developing colon cancer, but it is a good idea to consume fiber-rich fruits and vegetables anyway for your heart and overall health, a study said on Tuesday.

An analysis of 13 previous studies that included 725,000 men and women concluded that more fiber in the diet made no difference for colon cancer risk.

"Specifically, we found that men and women who ate at least 30 grams (1.1 ounce) of fiber a day had the same risk of colorectal (colon) cancer as men and women who ate 10 to 15 grams (0.4 to 0.5 ounce) of fiber a day," wrote study author Stephanie Smith-Warner of the Harvard School of Public Health.

An apple and an orange each provide about 3 grams (0.1 ounce) of fiber and a slice of wheat bread has half as much. Other good fiber sources are broccoli, tomatoes, grapefruit, red peppers, lettuce and carrots.

Eating lots of fiber did cut the risk of rectal cancer slightly, and a fiber-rich diet is known to ward off heart disease and diabetes. A diet heavy in red meat and alcohol is known to increase colon cancer risk.

Of the 725,000 people in the studies, more than 8,000 were diagnosed with colon cancer, said the report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

There are expected to be 145,000 new U.S. cases of colon cancer diagnosed this year and 56,000 deaths from the disease, second only to lung cancer as the leading cause of cancer death.