A grain of prevention?

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Is eating more whole grains also an effective way to lower the toll of colorectal cancer in the U.S.? As far back as C.W. Post s early twentieth-century introduction of cold cereal to the public, Americans have hoped to reap benefits from the fiber found in whole grains. Since then, various studies have both bolstered and undermined the correlation between dietary fiber and a lower risk of colorectal cancer. Now, a large review of over 25 previous studies has found that three daily servings of whole grains (about 90 grams) is associated with a 17 percent reduced risk of colorectal cancer.

The BMJ-published meta-analysis of these studies drew upon data from nearly 800,000 people which means that the results are garnering a lot of attention. In addition to their primary finding, the researchers calculated that there was a 10 percent reduction in the risk of CRC for each 10-gram increase in a person s daily fiber intake. And, although fiber sources other than cereals and whole grains such as fruits and vegetables don t appear to lower CRC risk, further research will be required to explain the disparity.

ACSH s Dr. Ruth Kava acknowledges the vacillating consensus on the link between dietary fiber and CRC risk over the years, yet she agrees that a 17 percent risk reduction in an analysis of data from 800,000 people is noteworthy. Furthermore, previous studies have shown that incorporating whole grains into one s diet may have a positive effect on a range of other health conditions, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity.