New evidence links healthy plant-based diets with lower colorectal cancer risk


Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in the United States.The risk of developing colorectal cancer is increased by overweight or obesity, smoking, and a diet high in red or processed meats.

Including plenty of whole grains, fresh fruit, and vegetables in one’s diet can reduce this risk, existing research has shown. A large study has now found that, in men, a diet that is high in healthy plant-based foods is associated with lower colorectal cancer risk.

Colorectal cancer, also known as bowel, colon, or rectal cancer, is the third most commonly diagnosedTrusted Source and the second deadliest cancer in the United States. Most people who receive a colorectal cancer diagnosis are over the age of 50, although it can affect younger people, too.

In recent years, cases in older people have started to decline, but the incidence among younger people is increasingTrusted Source. However, these changes may be due to more effective cancer screening. The risk of colorectal cancer increases with age.

Other risk factors people cannot influence are a family history of colorectal cancer, inflammatory bowel diseases — such as Crohn’s disease — and certain genetic syndromes. Lifestyle and colorectal cancer. There are, however, many lifestyle factors that also influence a person’s risk of colorectal cancer.

Factors that are likely to increase the risk includeTrusted Source: Several studiesTrusted Source have investigated the relationship between diet and colorectal cancer, finding that the typical Western diet that is high in fat, red meat, and processed meat increases the risk. Reducing these foods and increasing foods high in dietary fiber is associated with a reduction in risk.

Plant-based foods tend to be high in dietary fiber, but only in an unprocessed state. Now, a study that appears in BMC MedicineTrusted Source has found that a diet high in healthy plant-based foods — whole grains, fresh fruit, and vegetables — is associated with a lower risk of colorectal cancer in men.

Unhealthy plant-based foods — refined grains, fruit juices, and added sugars — had no beneficial effect on cancer risk.

“This American study adds to lots of existing evidence on the benefits of eating a balanced diet high in fruit, vegetables and fiber for both men and women.” The study group included 79,952 men and 93,475 women who were followed up for an average of 19.2 years. All participants were from Hawaii or the Los Angeles area and were aged between 45 and 75 years at enrolment.

The group included people of African American, Japanese American, Native Hawaiian, Latinx, and white volunteers.

At the start of the study, researchers assessed participants’ usual diet with a self-reported questionnaire.

Participants had to report how often and how much they ate out of more than 180 different foods and beverages. They chose from four portion size options, and frequencies ranging from never to four times a day.