Vox Populi

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New Study: A Traditional African Diet Helps Prevent Colorectal Cancer

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Eating corn, vegetables, fruit, and legumes instead of meat and dairy prevents colorectal cancer, according to a new study published in The Journal of Nutrition.

African-Americans suffer a higher incidence of colorectal cancer than do other ethnic groups. African-Americans also develop the disease at an earlier age. However, the disease is almost unheard of in most of sub-sahara Africa. New research shows that eating a traditional African diet, high in plant foods and low in meat and dairy, decreases the risk dramatically.

Researchers tracked the typical diets of 20 African-American men and 20 African men for two weeks and monitored cancer incidence rates. For an additional two weeks, each group participated in an inverted intervention whereby the African-American group ate a largely African diet (high in fiber and low in fat) while the African group increased their consumption of animal products and fat intake.

Results showed that the low-fat, high-fiber diet centered on corn-based products, vegetables, fruit, and legumes decreased the risk factors for cancer in the African-American group, while the African group was at a greater risk after just two weeks.

Researchers suspect changes in animal protein and carbohydrate consumption and changes in gut bacteria due to a shift in diet as potential causes for fluctuations in inflammation. This study hopes to lend credence to dietary interventions as treatment and prevention for cancer.

Sources:

O’Keefe SJ, Li JV, Lahti L, et al. Fat, fibre and cancer risk in African Americans and rural Africans. Nat Commun. 2015;6:6342.

Agrawal S, et al. Colorectal Cancer in African Americans,The American Journal of Gastroenterology (2005) 100, 515–523; doi:10.1111/j.1572-0241.2005.41829.x.

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