Does a high fiber diet prevent cancer?

7:32 PM, Jun 7, 2011   |    comments
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By Kay Quinn, Healthbeat Reporter

St. Louis, MO (KSDK) - Fiber has been called essential for a healthy diet.  But are you doing yourself any good if you've increased fiber to fight cancer?

It's the subject of this week's "8 Ways to Prevent Cancer" segment.

Oatmeal, fruits and vegetables, wheat bran, nuts.  Eat foods like these and you'll get close to the recommended amount of fiber you need every day: 21 to 25 grams a day for women, 30 to 38 grams a day for men.

"Fiber helps the gastrointestinal tract's motility and keep things moving along," says Dr. Dayna Early with the Siteman Cancer Center.

But fiber rich foods also have a lot of vitamins and minerals.

So does a diet high in fiber prevent colon or any other cancer?

"There was just a report out by the World Cancer Institute that looked at the balance of the studies looking at fiber and colon cancer prevention in particular," says Dr. Early. "And probably on balance there's a protective effect."

But Dr. Early says it's not a strong protective effect.

She believes staying healthy and avoiding cancer might lie not just in what you eat, but what you don't eat.

"In terms of dietary factors," says Dr. Early, "the strongest link is probably between red meat, fat and an increased risk of colon cancer so I'd say limiting your red meat intake and if you do eat red meat try to eat lean red meats, probably no more than one to two servings a week."

Avoiding colon cancer also means getting a colonoscopy or other colon cancer screening at age 50. That and a healthy diet will go a long way.

"Probably the most important thing in general is to not become obese," says Dr. Early.



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