Eating cereal fibre increases chances of surviving colon cancer

People who eat a diet high in cereal fibre or increase their fibre intake after a colon cancer diagnosis may be less likely to die from the disease, according to new research by Harvard Medical School.

During the study, which has been published in the journal JAMA Oncology, researchers examined data on 1575 adults diagnosed with colon cancer who completed diet surveys. They followed half of the participants for at least 8 years. During that period, 773 people died, including 174 who died of colon and rectal tumours.

Compared to the lowest fibre intakes in the study, each additional five grams of fibre intake was associated with 22 per cent lower odds of death from colorectal cancer during the study, as well as 14 per cent lower mortality from all causes of death.

Changing the diet after the diagnosis to add more fibre was also linked with survival rates. Each additional five grams added to the diets after a colorectal cancer diagnosis was associated with 18 per cent lower odds of death from colorectal cancer during the study, as well as 14 per cent lower mortality from all causes of death.

Fruit fibre, however, didn’t appear to lower rates of death from cancer or other causes.

The study’s senior study author, Dr. Andrew Chan, said: ‘Eating more fibre after colorectal cancer diagnosis is associated with a lower risk of dying from colorectal cancer. This seems to be independent of the amount of fibre eaten before diagnosis.’

‘It appears that cereal fibre and foods high in whole grains seem to be associated with the lowest risk of dying from colorectal cancer.’