The Fiber-Cancer Link

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Fiber: You know it’s good for us but why? Studies consistently find a link between diets high in fiber and lower risk of chronic diseases, including cancer.

This whole wheat veggie wrap has about 4 g fiber

In May, WCRF/AICR’s report on colorectal cancer upgraded its conclusions on fiber. In reviewing all the relevant studies, the report found the evidence was now strong enough to say that foods containing fiber convincingly protect against colorectal cancer. (The 2007 report concluded the evidence was ‘probable.’)

One indirect reason for fiber’s many health benefits comes from the fiber-carrying foods. Foods containing fiber include fruits, vegetables, and whole grains – all foods packed with plenty of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients linked with lower risk of chronic diseases. Not surprisingly, studies also show that people who eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are also less likely to be overweight or obese, which is linked to increased risk of seven different cancers.

But as fiber wends its way through our body, it leaves by-products. One of them, for example, butyrate,  may link to cancer prevention.

You can read about the research in latest issue of Cancer Research Update.

If you’re wondering if you get enough fiber, the basic rule is: eat 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories. If you’re not counting calories, in general women should try to eat 21 to 25 grams of fiber a day; men should aim for 30 to 38 grams a day.

Here are a few examples of high fiber foods: 1/2 cup cooked kidney beans – 7 g fiber; whole wheat wrap – 2 g fiber and 1 apple with skin – 3 g fiber.

And to find out how much fiber is in other foods, the USDA has a long list (a pdf) in Dietary Fiber Content of Selected Foods.


Author: Mya Nelson

Mya R. Nelson is at American Institute for Cancer Research, where she writes about the research in the field.

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