Dietary Fibers vs CancerWith over a million new cases of cancer each year around the world, the fight to decrease one’s cancerous risk is on the rise (National Cancer Institute, 2017). Concluded from the collection of data from patients across the world in the years 2008 and 2012, mortality rates involving cancer have reached 171 deaths per 100,000 patients (National Cancer Institute, 2017). It is also believed that 39.6% of people will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives (National Cancer Institute, 2017). These frightening statistics work to display to the world how much of an impact cancer has made on society and sends researchers searching for more and more methods of reducing its mark (National Cancer Institute, 2017).Cancer, by definition, is the unconstrained replication and growth of mutated cells in an organism’s body.
The build up of these fast growing cells within a confined area creates a large mass known as a tumor.(Cancer Research UK, 2017). A mutation occurs when a single base pairing in one’s genes is altered or modified. Normally, the human body can handle these simple mutations; however, if found within a tumor suppressor gene and a proto-oncogene, cancerous tumors begin to develop (Cancer.Net, 2015). Tumor suppressor genes (commonly known as BRCA1, BRCA2, and p53) restrict the amount a cell can replicate to meet the needs of the body. When these genes develop mutations, cells begin to grow at an unmanageable rate because the tumor suppressor gene can no longer stop it; this results in a tumor. Proto-oncogenes normally have a regulated replication, but after a mutation, it can turn hearty cells into cancerous ones due to the mutation eliminating their monitored growth patterns.
(Cancer.Net, 2015). Based on this information, certain factors can increase or reduce the risk of cancer, however some of these factors are uncontrollable. Factors such as alcohol abuse, sunlight and obesity are manageable risk factors that aid the development of cancer whereas influences such as age and hormones are not (National Cancer Institute, 2015).
Particular dieting methods and healthy living are hypothesized to help reduce some of these risks including the use of dietary fibers. The cell wall of any plant food contains high dosages of fiber. Because our body does not secrete a fiber digesting enzyme, the fiber passes through the stomach, small intestine, large intestine, and colon intact (Mayo Clinic, 2015). This source of fiber is found in many food sources such as fruits, vegetables, whole grain, and beans (Mayo Clinic, 2015). Because of the fibers ability to travel through the digestive system untouched, it is believed to help prevent the risk of colon and rectal cancer. In essence, the fiber would work to push out any harmful bacteria or cancer-promoting agents through one’s feces that can sit in the intestinal tract and cause damage (Mader and Windelspecht, 2018).
This idea came to light after researchers made comparisons between countries with a high fiber diet paired with countries with a low fiber intake. They observed that those with a greater diet of fiber seemed to develop fewer cases of colon cancer as to those with the smaller intake (The Nutrition Source, 2017). Based on these outcomes, researchers created a series of different studies and experiments that put fiber to the test. Back in 1985, a number of researchers worked to analyze the correlation between colorectal cancer and dietary fibers. They used an experimental group of 725,628 men and women and followed them for six to twenty years between thirteen different cohort studies (Park et al., 2005).
In their studies, they accounted for age, gender, and the subject’s usual dietary intake, as well as their fiber intake through a series of detailed questionnaires. They also included a control by asking questions referring to non dietary risk factors (Park et al., 2005). Upon learning more information about each subject, they excluded any patrons with a history of cancer, as well as those with improbable responses (Park et al., 2005).
To record their data, they transferred the nutrient intake into energy intakes using the residual method(Park et al., 2005). With this large sample size, they gathered results towards the affiliation fiber may have with the risk of cancer and identified a total of 8081 colorectal cancer cases across the cohort (Park et al.
, 2005). After many years of gathering all their data, they came to two conclusions. When referring to their age-adjusted results, they found that fiber intake did in fact affect the risk of colorectal cancer. However, upon the inclusion of alternative dietary factors, they established that dietary fibers did not reduce the risk of cancer despite the common belief (Park et al., 2005).In an additional study done in 1980, scientists calculated the risks of colorectal cancer and adenoma paired with dietary fibers in women.
The study commenced when a group of 121,700 females between the ages thirty and fifty-five completed a questionnaire that entailed different influences on cancer development (Fuchs et al., 1999). After many more intricate questionnaires, the group of researchers obtained a reduced sample size of 88,757 women, excluding those who left many answers blank, had a history of cancer, and had implausible responses (Fuchs et al., 1999). Each questionnaire provided a list of several different food items in which the participant was to affirm the portion size they had consumed. They started with 61 items, later expanding the survey to 121 and then ending with 136 items (Fuchs et al., 1999). Researchers also provided a section to record the cereals and vitamins the people ingested and another section for alternative meals that were not included on the list (Fuchs et al.
, 1999).Within sixteen years, 787 cases of cancer were recorded. They collected an assortment of results regarding the parallels between cancer and fiber, but overall, they came to the conclusion that a bulky intake of dietary fibers does not correlate with colorectal cancer reduction (Fuchs et al., 1999).
Between the two studies, various results were obtained. Depending on circumstantial evidence, dietary fiber seemed to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer in each of the cases. However, after the inclusion of outside risk factors, age, weight and gender, the two groups of researchers attained a differing conclusion that suggested dietary fibers do not reduce one’s risk of cancer. Each source used large sample sizes, extended amounts of time, and cohorts of studies that created credible results towards the topic at hand. However, because the studies provided were not experimental and instead, were based on surveys and questionnaires, there were some limitations to their examination. The patrons that completed the surveys could have easily provided fabricated statements regarding their weight, fiber intake, and measurements of consumed foods.
Nonetheless, despite the common belief that dietary fibers work in our digestive system to reduce colon and rectal cancers, one can infer that dietary fibers are not a strong source for cancer reduction based on the multiple studies documented by credible groups of researchers.