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More fish and fruit and fewer soft drinks can lower bowel cancer risk

Tuesday 4th July 2017
People who incorporate elements of a Mediterranean diet into their lifestyle may be less likely to develop colorectal cancer, new research suggests. Image: a_namenko via iStock
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People who adopt certain aspects of a Mediterranean-style diet by increasing their consumption of fish and fruit and reducing their intake of soft drinks may be less likely to develop bowel cancer, according to a new study.
 
Research presented at the ESMO 19th World Congress on Gastrointestinal Cancer in Barcelona by Dr Naomi Fliss Isakov of the Tel Aviv Medical Center in Israel initially set out to explore the effects of a Mediterranean diet on colorectal cancer risk.
 
The team monitored 808 patients who were in the process of being screened for bowel cancer, all of whom were aged between 40 and 70. They were asked questions about their diet and lifestyle, while scientists took note of how many abnormal-looking polyps were present in their bowels, as these could be a potential sign of cancer.
 
It was found that patients with more advanced polyps and a subsequent higher cancer risk typically consumed fewer foods associated with a Mediterranean diet (1.9 components on average). In contrast, those without any polyps in their bowels reported that they regularly ate 4.5 components of a Mediterranean diet, indicating a clear link between the two factors.
 
What's more, it was found that patients who adopted two or three components of a traditional Mediterranean diet were 50 per cent less likely overall to have advanced polyps. More fish and fruit and fewer soft drinks were found to be the most beneficial components to incorporate into a diet to achieve these results.
 
Dr Isakov explained that these three elements could reduce the risk of precancerous colorectal lesions by as much as 30 per cent.
 
Commenting on the research, ESMO spokesperson Dr Dirk Arnold stated: "This stands in line with other very recent findings on nutritive effects, such as the potential protective effects of nut consumption and vitamin D supplementation which have been shown earlier this year.
 
"However, it remains to be seen whether these results are associated with reduced mortality and it is also unclear if and when a dietary change would be beneficial."
 
Written by Martin Lambert
 
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