Up your fibre intake to reduce risk of colorectal cancer, a new report published on BMJ.com recommends. People with a family history of colorectal cancer should have at least three servings of wholegrain bread or cereals, or oatmeal, brown rice or porridge, per day.
Fibre also reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and obesity.
Although the idea that dietary fibre reduces the risk of colorectal cancer has been around for nearly 40 years, studies attempting to explain the association have not had consistent results.
Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer worldwide with 1.2 million new cases diagnosed each year. A team of UK and Dutch researchers analysed the results of 25 prospective studies involving almost two million participants.
While overall reductions in risk of colorectal cancer were small, there was a clear gradient in risk associated with the amount of dietary fibre. Compared with the lowest levels of fibre intake, each 10 g/day increase in intake of total dietary fibre and cereal fibre was associated with a 10% reduction in risk of colorectal cancer. Adding three servings (90 g/day) of whole grains was associated with about a 20% reduction.
"In summary, our meta-analysis suggests that a high intake of dietary fibre, particularly from cereal and whole grains, is associated with a reduced risk of colorectal cancer," they conclude.