Study Shows No Link Between a High-Fiber Diet and Preventing Colon Cancer
Posted January 20, 1999 6:00 a.m. EST
RALEIGH — We hear it all the time, "eat right, and you can prevent cancer." But a new study published in theNew England Journal of Medicinethreatens to undermine this popular belief.
We all like to think we can control our health by exercising and eating right.
But this new study shows no link between a high-fiber diet and preventing colon cancer. It's causing doctors to re-think their strategies.
At Joe's Place, a downtown Raleigh restaurant, the vegetables are hot and full of fiber.
"When you live alone and don't cook for yourself, sometimes you slip, but I do try to concentrate on the fiber," said restaurant patron Beth May.
For years, our mothers and our doctors have told us that fiber does a body good, but it may not do as much good as we thought.
"Very surprised, very surprised. I eat a lot of fiber. I try to," said restaurant patron Penny Windley.
"It's not conclusive, but it certainly raises questions," said Dr. Joanne Wilson a gastroenterologist atDuke University.
Wilson says because the study was only done on female nurses, it represents a small fraction of the population.
She does not want people to stop eating fiber, because it definitely helps prevent other diseases like heart disease and diabetes.
"To say now [that] fiber is no good, that's not what the study is really saying. It's saying in this group we found no prevention. But they go on to say that their studies certainly have shown it's preventive for other things, other disorders, other diseases. It's really important," said Wilson.
TheAmerican Cancer Societysays it will not change its dietary guidelines when it comes to fiber, because it has been proven to prevent other types of cancer.
Doctors say the best way to prevent colon cancer is by getting regular screenings for the disease.