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The on-again/off-again status of dietary fiber as a player in cancer prevention may be on again when it comes to cancers of the mouth, throat, and esophagus.
Taking into consideration patients’ age, gender, alcohol and/or tobacco use, education, and caloric intake, researchers in Italy report that the odds of developing oral, pharyngeal, and esophageal cancers were lower for study subjects who consumed more fiber in their diets.
M. Soler and colleagues at Milan’s Mario Negri Institute of Pharmacology Research based their conclusion on a food-frequency study of 902 cancer patients (271 with oral cancer, 327 with pharyngeal cancer, 304 with esophageal cancer) and 1,950 patients with acute, non-cancerous disease who served as controls (“Fiber intake and the risk of oral, pharyngeal and esophageal cancer,” International Journal of Cancer, February 1, 2001;91(3):283-287).
Fruit fiber conferred the highest protective value, followed by grain, then vegetable fiber. By fiber constituents, highest to lowest protective values were conferred by cellulose, insoluble non-cellulose polysaccharide, total (Englyst) fiber, lignin, soluble fiber, and total insoluble fiber. In October 2000, researchers reported in the journal The Lancet, that dietary fiber may be linked to increased recurrence of benign colorectal growths that often are precursors of cancerous tumors.
The corresponding author for this study is C. Bosetti, Mario Negri Institute of Pharmacology Research, Via Eritrea 62, I-20157 Milan, Italy.
Key points reported in this study include:
* Dietary fiber may offer some protection against development of oral, throat, and esophageal cancers
* Fruit fiber offers the greatest protection, followed by grain fiber, then vegetable fiber
* Dietary fiber appears to be protective against some cancers, but has been linked to increased benign colorectal tumors
This article was prepared by Health & Medicine Week editors from staff and other reports.