Nov. 27, 2017—Diet can make a difference after a diagnosis of colorectal cancer. A new
study suggests people with colorectal cancer may have a lower risk of
death if they eat more fiber.
Colorectal cancer—that's cancer of the colon or rectum—is
the third most common cancer in both men and women and the second leading
cause of cancer death in the U.S. Thanks to early detection and treatment,
the number of colorectal cancer survivors is expected to grow.
But there's not a lot of data about diet and survival after being diagnosed.
Fiber and colorectal cancer survival
Fiber has been linked to a lower risk of getting colorectal cancer in many
studies. But researchers wanted to see what kind of impact eating fiber
had after a colorectal cancer diagnosis.
They followed 1,575 health professionals diagnosed with stage I to stage
III colorectal cancer. That means the cancer hadn't spread to distant sites.
Participants filled out questionnaires about their diets. They reported
how often, on average, they ate specific foods.
The researchers assessed fiber intake from major food sources like cereals,
vegetables and fruits. They also looked at the effect of eating whole
grains from foods like rice, bread, pasta and breakfast cereals.
The power of fiber
The study showed that people who ate more fiber had lower rates of death—both
from colorectal cancer and all other causes. This was especially true
when people ate a lot of cereal fiber.
Cereal fiber and whole grains are linked to other health benefits too.
These foods have been found to lower rates of precancerous polyps in the
colon, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and death in general.
If you have colorectal cancer, increasing how much fiber you eat can make
a difference, the researchers said.
The study was published in
Are you eating enough fiber?
Fiber is a nutritional powerhouse, but many people don't eat enough
of it. Many surprisingly high-fiber foods can be worked into your daily diet.
Which foods have the most fiber, and how much should you eat? You can find
out with our
daily fiber calculator.