Healthy plant-based diets could help lower colon cancer risk

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In a study from Kyung Hee University, scientists found that eating a plant-based diet rich in healthy plant foods is associated with a lower risk of colorectal cancer in men.

Colon cancer is the third-most common cancer worldwide, and the risk of developing colorectal cancer over a lifetime is one in 23 for men and one in 25 for women.

A healthy plant-based diet includes whole grains, vegetables, and legumes, and is low in unhealthy plant foods, such as refined grains, fruit juices, and added sugars.

Previous research has found healthy plant-based diets are associated with better health outcomes.

In the current study, researchers examined the associations between plant-based diets and the risk of colorectal cancer.

They used data from a total of 79,952 men and 93,475 women who participated in the Multiethnic Cohort Study.

The team tested the risk of colon cancer across three plant-based diets: overall plant-based diet index (PDI), healthful plant-based diet index (hPDI), and unhealthful plant-based diet index (uPDI).

During a follow-up of 19 years, there were 4976 colon cancer cases identified.

Among men, the overall plant-based diet index and healthful plant-based diet index were linked to lower risks of colon cancer, while no association was found for the unhealthful plant-based diet index among men and for all indices among women.

In men, the healthy effect was stronger in Japanese American, Native Hawaiian, and White groups than African American or Latino groups and for left colon and rectal tumors than right.

The decreased risk with a healthful plant-based diet index was found consistently across racial and ethnic groups.

Based on the findings, the team suggests that greater adherence to plant-based diets rich in healthy plant foods and low in less healthy plant foods is linked to a reduced risk of colon cancer in men, but not in women.

The study was conducted by Jihye Kim et al and published in BMC Medicine.

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