12 December 2011

Fiber No Panacea for Colon Cancer, Studies Suggest. Part 2

Posted by Jody under: Preventative Medicine .

Subjects in both groups underwent colonoscopy 1 and 4 years after the study began to determine if the dietary differences resulted in a decrease reappearance of polyps in the intervention group.

Although the intervention group did decrease the percent of fat in their diets (from about 36 percent to about 24 percent), and increased their fiber intake by 75 percent (from 10 to 17 grams of fiber per 1,000 calories), these changes did not result in a decrease in the recurrence of polyps.

In the second study, investigators from the Arizona Cancer Center at the University of Arizona examined the effect of a dietary supplement of wheat bran fiber on the recurrence of colorectal polyps. Men and women between 40 and 80 years of age (a total of 1,303 people) were randomly assigned to receive either a high-fiber supplement of 13.5 grams of wheat bran fiber per day, or a low-fiber supplement of 2 grams of wheat-bran fiber per day. Other than taking the fiber supplements, participants were not advised to change their usual diets.

Thirty-four to 36 months after the beginning of supplementation, subjects had a follow-up colonoscopy. Similar to the results of the dietary trial, the researchers found no difference in the number of colorectal polyps found in the people in the high-fiber group as compared to those in the low fiber group.

In an editorial accompanying these two studies, Dr. Tim Byers of the University of Colorado Medical School distinguishes between prevention of recurrence of colorectal polyps, and prevention of CRC. He notes that while the results of these trials do not support the theory that a high-fiber cereal additive or a low-fat, high-fiber diet prevent polyp recurrence, the data cannot be interpreted as evidence that such dietary manipulations “aren’t reliable in protecting against the later phases of development of CRC.” Byers reiterated findings from observational (non-intervention) studies that indicate that “diets high in fruits and vegetables are associated with lower risks of cancer at many sites, including the colon and rectum. It is unclear,” he continued, “whether any single aspect of the diet — a particular vitamin, phytochemical [other possibly beneficial compounds from plants], or dietary practice — accounts for this relation.”

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