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The Functions of Fibre

By: Corinna Underwood - Updated: 7 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
Colorectal Cancer Colon Cancer Fibre

Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer is one of the most common cancers with a prevalence of more than 12,000 women and 15,000 men in the UK alone. After lung cancer, it is the second leading cause of cancer deaths.

Risk Factors

Age: You are most likely to develop colorectal cancer after the age of 50. Although younger adults do sometimes develop the disease.

Personal history: Even if your previous colorectal cancer was totally removed, you have an increased risk of developing cancer in other parts of the colon and perhaps the rectum. The risk increases if you had the first incidence of colorectal cancer before the age of 60.

If you have inflammatory bowel disease, you are also at a higher risk of developing colorectal cancer. Family history: Certain types of cancer can be hereditary because of shared environmental factors or genetic susceptibility. You are at a higher risk of colon cancer if you have a family member who has suffered the disease.

A High Fibre Diet or not?

Since around the 1970s we have been told that a high-fibre diet will dramatically decrease the risk of colon cancer. For almost two decades, this idea seemed to make sense. After all, fibre makes the stool bulkier and perhaps which, it has been theorised, may cause carcinogens to pass from body more rapidly. The evidence seemed convincing enough and health agencies throughout the West advocated a high-fibre diet to prevent colon cancer.

The idea began to change last year when as US studies revealed that it has no effect whatsoever. Research began when it was noticed that people in rural Africa were less prone to colon cancer than Westerners. Though there are numerous differences between the two cultures' diets, one that was very apparent is the African consumption of fibre, which is much lighter than ours is.

Yet studies show that people who eat high fibre diets are just as likely to develop colon cancer as those who did not. In fact, new studies, conducted in Europe, suggest that one type of fibre may even be bad for your health.

The relationship between nutrition and disease is complex, particularly where fibre is concerned. This is due to the fact that there are several different types of fibre, which each have the potential to act differently. Experts say people shouldn't give up on high-fibre, low-fat diets just yet. This type of diet is still recommended for overall health and disease prevention.

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