Popular thought has told us for many years that, in order to maintain a health digestive system and prevent colorectal cancer, we need a healthy dose of fiber in our diets to keep things moving.
Seems logical when you think about it, but is there any truth to it?
In the January 1999 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers published findings from a massive study cohort which set out to determine whether fiber intake had any correlation to the prevention of colorectal cancer.
The researchers conducted a study of over 88 thousand women, ages 34-59, over a 16-year period. These women had no history of cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, or familial polyposis.
After adjusting for age, risk factors, and total energy intake, the results were in.
They found no association between dietary fiber intake and the risk of colorectal cancer.
Even when they excluded test subjects who substantially altered their fiber intake during the first six years of the study, they still found no association.
To be fair, one possible association (although not a strong one) they could not rule out was whether or not fiber intake at an early age had any impact later on in life.
Additionally, when they broke down the different types of fiber (fruit, cereal, or vegetable) only fruit fiber was associated with any appreciable reduction in risk, although they noted the “trend was not statistically significant”.
On the other hand, they actually found vegetable fiber intake to be associated with a significant increase in colorectal cancer risk.
Again, though, in total they found fiber intake to have no association between dietary fiber and the risk of colon cancer.
Does this mean dietary fiber ought to be shunned?
There may be other benefits of dietary fiber intake, although those benefits or the amounts of dietary fiber needed to achieve them are not explored here.
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