It might be that a diet rich in vegetables, whole grains, beans and lentils can cut the risk of bowel cancer in men by more than 20 percent. A new study on 79,952 men in the US found that those who ate largest amounts of healthy plant-based foods had a 22% lower risk of bowel cancer compared to those who ate the least. Strangely, the researchers found no such link for women, of whom 93,475 were included in the study. The team suggested that the link is clearer for men, who have an overall higher risk of bowel cancer.
Food groups were classed as healthy plant foods (whole grains, fruits, vegetables, vegetable oils, nuts, legumes such as lentils and chickpeas, tea and coffee), less healthy plant foods (refined grains, fruit juices, potatoes, added sugars) and animal foods (animal fat, dairy, eggs, fish or seafood, meat).
Researcher Jihye Kim, from Kyung Hee University, South Korea, said: “Colorectal (bowel) cancer is the third most common cancer worldwide and the risk of developing colorectal cancer over a lifetime is one in 23 for men and one in 25 for women.”
“We speculate that the antioxidants found in foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains could contribute to lowering colorectal cancer risk by suppressing chronic inflammation, which can lead to cancer. As men tend to have a higher risk of colorectal cancer than women, we propose that this could help explain why eating greater amounts of healthy plant-based foods was associated with reduced colorectal cancer risk in men, but not women.”
The authors found the link among men also varied by race and ethnicity. For example, among Japanese American men, the reduced risk of cancer was 20% but it was 24% for white men.
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