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Two week diet switch lessens colon cancer risk in African-American study

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Swapping an African-American for African diet could cut colon cancer risk

It might be possible for African-Americans to lower their risk for colon cancer by switching to an African diet finds new research.


Researchers have found that a two-week diet change for African-Americans might, though not definitely, lower colon cancer risk.

In a new study conducted under controlled conditions, investigators from the University of Pittsburgh, Imperial College London, Wageningen University in the Netherlands, University of Helsinki, University of Illinois, and the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa followed study participants in the U.S for two weeks to find out if swapping diets had an effect on markers associated with colon cancer.

The research revealed African-Americans who ate an African diet instead of a high animal fat, lower fiber African-American diet had lower risk of colon cancer that was measurable.

The study, published in the journal Nature Communications highlights the importance of what we eat for controlling health risks.

Study participants housed under controlled conditions and given prepared meals took on characteristics of each others' colons after swapping diets.

Foods that were given as part of the African diet included high-maize corn fritters, spinach, red peppers, corn muffins, black-eyed peas, black tea, pineapple, home made tater-tots, veggie dogs, onions and other typical South African foods.

Intestinal inflammation lowered in two weeks

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After two weeks the researchers noted changes in bacteria found in fecal samples taken before and after the groups switched diets. One group took on characteristics of the other group.

There was also a change in other biomarkers that affect colon cancer risk and linked to inflammatory bowel diseases known to raise the chances of intestinal cancers.

Can diet change our future health in such a short period of time? The answer is maybe.

The researchers say the finding doesn't prove switching diets accounted for the positive changes in the gut. They do think adding more fiber played a role.

Stephen O'Keefe, M.D., professor of medicine, Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, Pitt School of Medicine practiced medicine in South Africa, noting there is a low incidence of intestinal cancer and polyps. He also says there is good evidence from past studies to suggest fiber can lower the chances of colon cancer.

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Photo credit:

Wikimedia Commons
Source: philipp