A study has found that a plant-based diet reduces the risk of colorectal cancer in men. Courtesy of Getty Images Bank
Studies have shown that a plant-based diet can reduce the risk of colorectal cancer by up to 22% in men. In women, there was no association between diet and risk of colorectal cancer.
Jihye Kim, a researcher at Kyunghee University, followed 173,427 adult men and women in the United States for an average of 19 years and found a link between a vegetarian diet and colorectal cancer.
The research team divided the foods that appeared in the diet into ‘healthy plant foods’, ‘less healthy plant foods’, and ‘animal foods’. Healthy plant foods included grains, fruit, vegetables, nuts, beans and tea. Processed plant foods, such as refined grains and fruit juices, were considered less healthy plant foods, while animal products, such as eggs, seafood and meat, were classified as animal products.
The research team investigated the frequency and quantity of each food eaten through a questionnaire. Regarding the frequency of intake, three options were presented, ranging from ‘at least twice a day’ to ‘never or never’. For some drinks, the option of ‘drinking four or more times a day’ was even introduced.
The amount of food consumed was calculated by calculating the ratio of calories of each food per 1,000 calories (kcal) out of the total calories consumed per day and dividing it into five steps. The average age of the survey subjects was 60 years for men and 59 years for women.
As a result of the analysis by ranking the intake habits for each diet by summing the frequency and amount of intake, the men who scored the highest in the comprehensive index of healthy plant-based eating habits had a 0.74 chance of 0.81% developed colorectal cancer during the survey period. . The incidence of colorectal cancer in men who scored highest in unhealthy plant-based eating habits was 1.02 to 1.24 percent.
The research team cited an adequate intake of dietary fiber, polyphenols, and carotenoids that act as antioxidants as the reason why a plant-based diet may reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. For example, dietary fiber plays a role in protecting mucous membranes in the body through which cancer cells can penetrate through microbial fermentation.
In this study, they found that plant-based lifestyles did not significantly affect the risk of colorectal cancer in women. The research team explained, “The survey found that women eat more plant foods and less animal products than men.”