Health

Eat to beat bowel cancer as study finds key nutrients slash risk of second deadliest cancer


KEY nutrients found in foods like broccoli, milk and peanuts can slash the risk of bowel cancer, experts have claimed.

Researchers claim that foods high in folate, magnesium and dairy products could all help stave off the second deadliest cancer.

Nutrient dense foods could help you stave off bowel cancer, experts have claimed

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Nutrient dense foods could help you stave off bowel cancer, experts have claimedCredit: Getty Images – Getty

Bowel cancer is the second deadliest cancer in the UK, and the fourth most common form of the disease.

Yet, the disease can be cured if it’s caught early enough.

That’s why The Sun launched the No Time 2 Lose campaign to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of the disease, and call on the Government to lower the screening age in England from 60 to 50 – a move they agreed to within months of the campaign’s launch.

A new study, published in the journal Gut, found that a diet containing specific nutrients could help – but added that there was no evidence that tea, coffee, fish, onions or garlic would keep the cancer at bay.

The researchers combed through data and reviews of the cancer, as well as clinical and observational studies that assessed the impact of diet and medicinal factors when it comes to developing bowel cancer.

The medicinal factors included: aspirin; non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as paracetamol; and statins.

Looking at the dietary factors and this included vitamins or supplements (magnesium, calcium, folic acid, vitamin A, B, C, E, D, β-carotene and selenium); coffee; tea; fish and omega 3 fatty acids; dairy products; fibre; fruit and vegetables; meat; and alcohol.

What is bowel cancer?

Bowel cancer is where the disease starts in the large intestine.

It’s also referred to as colon or colorectal cancer, because it can also affect the colon and rectum.

Most bowel cancers develop from pre-cancerous growths, called polyps.

Not all will turn cancerous, but if your doctor finds any, they will tend to remove them to prevent cancer.

Bowel cancer is the fourth most common form of the disease in the UK, with 42,000 people diagnosed every year, according to Bowel Cancer UK.

More than 94 per cent of new cases are in people over the age of 50, while nearly 59 per cent are in the over 70s.

But bowel cancer can affect anyone, of any age with more than 2,500 cases diagnosed in people under the age of 50 each year

The researchers analysed data from September 1980 to June 2019.

They found that aspirin is likely to protect against bowel cancer, lowering the risk by 14 per cent – with people taking doses as low as 75mg a day.

Magnesium, which can be found in foods such as nuts, seeds and spinach was associated with a 23 per cent lower risk, with people having at least 255mg a day.

A high intake of folic acid, which is found in food such as broccoli, kidney beans and breakfast cereals was also associated with 12-15 per cent lower risk – but the experts could not determine what dosage would be beneficial.

The experts also found that eating dairy products such as cheese, milk and yogurt was associated with 13 per cent to 19 per cent lower risk of the disease.

The researchers cautioned that they were not able to draw conclusions on dosage from the analysis.

Foods high in folic acid such as broccoli could help keep bowel cancer at bay

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Foods high in folic acid such as broccoli could help keep bowel cancer at bayCredit: Getty – Contributor

They found that fibre intake was associated with a 22 per cent- 43 per cent lower risk, while fruit and vegetable intake was associated with up to a 52 per cent lower risk.

They added that there was a benefit for every additional 100g a day a person would consume.

For those following a plant based diet, soy was also associated with a modest fall in risk with an 8 to 15 per cent drop.

The researchers stated that there was no evidence that vitamins E, C, or multivitamins were protective.

The data was also weak when it came to the protective qualities of tea; garlic or onions; vitamin D either alone or combined with calcium; coffee and caffeine; fish and omega 3; and inconsistent on the protective effect of vitamin A and the B vitamins.

While observational studies found that a high calcium intake could be beneficial, clinical trials found that this could put you at increased risk.

Eating meat increased the risk from 12 to 21 per cent – particularly for processed and red meat.

The food groups you should include in your diet to help stave off bowel cancer

The researchers found that a nutrient dense diet could help stave off bowel cancer, here are the foods that can help.

Foods high in magnesium:

  • Pumpkin seed
  • Spinach
  • Almonds
  • Peanuts
  • Cashew nuts

Foods high in folic acid:

  • Broccoli
  • Leafy green vegetables
  • Chick peas
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Breakfast cereals fortified with folic acid

Foods high in dairy:

  • Milk
  • Cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Soya alternatives

Those who ate 100mg of these products a day increased their risk of bowel cancer by 10-30 per cent.

The researchers also stated that higher levels of alcohol intake also pushed up the risk.

The researchers stated that the evidence is low in many cases as added that they were unable to define “an optimal dose and duration of exposure/intake for any of the products, even in the case of low dose aspirin and other compounds that have been extensively assessed”.

The study has been published in the British Medical Journal and the experts suggest that the findings could help clinicians advise patients on the best diets to lower the risk of bowel cancer.

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