It may never be too late to cut your risk of colon cancer. Well, that’s if the findings of a new study are to be believed.
According to this research, just two weeks of diet changes may be enough to alter your risk of colon cancer. Which is really rather exciting!
Across the world, millions of people are diagnosed with colon cancer each year. It’s the fourth most common type of cancer here in the UK and one of the biggest cancer killers too.
Colon cancer is typically considered to be a ‘westernised disease’, and there is widespread speculation that differences in diet have a large role to play in incidence rates.
Want to know more? Then read on as we take a closer look at this astonishing new research.
What Was Involved?
Researchers asked 20 African American participants living in Pittsburgh and 20 rural South Africans to switch diets for a two week period.
Before this ‘diet swap’ took place, they carried out a battery of tests on the microbes living in the guts of these individuals.
These tests revealed that the diets consumed by these two groups were associated with very different populations of gut microbes.
During the two week study, the American participants ate a traditional African diet rich in fibre and low in fat. This included plenty of beans, vegetables, and very little meat.
The South African participants on the other hand were stuck eating a fatty American fast food diet that consisted of plenty of chips and burgers! Which must have been a bit of a shock to the system, to say the least!
What Did They Find?
Once the two week diet swap was over the researchers conducted colonoscopies on all the volunteers in the study – and the results were pretty remarkable!
No, really, the study may have been brief, but the results were definitely noticeable.
After only two week of this diet swap, the scientists witnessed a dramatic drop in colon cancer risk indicators in the African American group.
Astonishingly, the African American participants who followed the traditional African diet were found to have reduced inflammation in the colon.
And that’s not all; these participants were also found to have increased production of butyrate too. This fantastic fatty acid, produced by microbes in the gut, is thought to have anti-cancer properties!
Unfortunately, the South African participants didn’t fare so well on the western diet. In fact, tests suggested that their risk of colon cancer had risen.
The team behind the study were left astounded by the extent of the changes witnessed in such a short period of time.
The Diet Connection
Many previous studies have also shown that a high fibre diet is linked to a reduced risk of colon cancer. That said, scientists are still trying to uncover the reason for this.
This new study raises the intriguing possibility that the missing link between diet and colon cancer risk is the microbes living in our gut and the chemicals they produce.
Obviously this was only a small study, so it’s not possible to draw too many conclusions, but these latest findings support the notion that our modern western diets – which are typically high in fat and low in fibre – are bad for us.
Yet the great news is that the study also suggests that it may never be too late to change your diet and reduce your risk of colon cancer.
What Can You Do?
You don’t have to follow an African diet to reduce your risk of colon cancer. There are a variety of other dietary changes you can make that can help too, such as making sure to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, choosing wholegrain foods, and eating less processed meats.
Having a colonoscopy at regular intervals beyond the age of 50 can also help reduce your risk too.
Here at the London Gastroenterology Centre, we’re digestive health experts. We offer a range of services including colonoscopy in London and can advise you on a range of matters relating to your digestive health.
Want to know more about our services? Then contact us today, by giving us a call on 020 7183 7965 and a member of our friendly team will be happy to help you with your enquiries.