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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.
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.