Diet And Cancer

Just Two Weeks Of Bad Diet Leads To Tumor Markers

Diet and Cancer. Healthy Living Magazine

Diet and Cancer. Healthy Living Magazine

The fourth leading cause of death from cancer worldwide, colon cancer accounts for over 600,000 deaths per year.

However, although this cancer’s incidence is higher in the west than in Africa or the Far East, paradoxically, African Americans in the US bear the highest burden.

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In a unique two week trial, 20 African American volunteers and another group of 20 participants from rural South Africa traded diets. Only two weeks of bad diet raised the cancer risk when the Africans volunteered to trade their traditional high fiber, low fat and protein diet for the American high fat, low fiber one, according to the journal Nature Communications.

The study confirmed fiber reduces colon cancer risk and made the startling discovery about the little length of time required to raise or lower the body’s risk for the malignancy.

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inflammation and polyps

The researchers used data from before and after colonoscopy examinations and samples of bacteria taken from the colon. Half the American group had damaged bowel lining with growths called polyps that can turn into carcinomas. There was none in the Africans.

But two weeks later, the Africans’ guts exhibited signs of inflammation and polyp growths. Fewer inflammation and reduced biomarkers for cancer risk were found among the Americans put on the African diet.

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fiber effect

“The findings suggest that people can substantially lower their risk of colon cancer by eating more fiber,” says Professor Jeremy Nicholson, the team leader from the Department of Surgery & Cancer at Imperial College London. “This is not new in itself but what is really surprising is how quickly and dramatically the risk markers can switch in both groups following diet change. These findings also raise serious concerns that the progressive westernization of African communities may lead to the emergence of colon cancer as a major health issue.”

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The positive change was linked to the production of butyrate, produced by the action of bacteria on fiber. Butyrate is an anticancer agent.

“The gut microbiome is being increasingly recognized as an important contributor to human health,” said colorectal surgeon Dr James Kinross, one of the authors.

“This research shows that gut bacteria are critically important for mediating the link between diet and colon cancer risk. This means we can look to develop therapies targeting gut bacteria as a way to prevent and treat cancer.”

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ReferenceO’Keefe SJD, Li JV, Lahti L, Ou J, Carbonero F, Mohammed K, Posma JM, Kinross J, Wahl D, Ruder D, Vipperla K, Naidoo V, Mtshali L, Tims S, Puylaert PGB, DeLany J, Krasinskas A, Benefiel AC, Kaseb HO, Newton E, Nicholson JK, de Vos WM, Gaskins HR, Zoetendal EG. Fat, fibre and cancer risk in African Americans and rural Africans. Nat Commun,. 2015; 6: 6342 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms7342
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