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Evidence grows that fibre guards against cancer

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Bowel cancer risks can be greatly reduced by having a high-fibre diet, scientists have said.

Previous guidance issued in 2007 had stated that fibre-rich foods “probably” protect against the disease, but now experts have said there is “convincing” evidence that foods containing fibre prevent bowel cancer.

The latest research results have been released by the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF), which commissioned experts from Imperial College London to examine data on the benefits of a high-fibre diet, in relation to cancer risks.

They concluded that three servings a day of cereal fibre and wholegrains reduce the risk of bowel cancer. They recommended people eat a plant-based diet including fibre-rich foods such as wholegrains, fruits, vegetables and pulses such as beans.

Scientists also analysed new data on the risk of bowel cancer from red and processed meat, which adds weight to the view these are a “convincing” cause of the disease.

The WCRF and the American Institute for Cancer Research recommend people eat no more than 500g (cooked weight) of red meat a week.

The report is part of the WCRF’s Continuous Update Project (CUP) and updates the bowel cancer findings in its 2007 report Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective.

Overall, the new analysis adds 263 new papers on bowel cancer to the 749 that were studied as part of the 2007 report.

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