Yoghurt may help men reduce risks of bowel cancer

Wednesday, 19 June, 2019

Yoghurt may help men reduce risks of bowel cancer

Yoghurt has long been linked to gut health, but new research suggests that men who regularly eat yoghurt may have a lower risk of developing pre-cancerous growths in the bowel.

Published in the journal Gut, researchers from Washington University School of Medicine and Sun Yat-sen University found men who ate two or more servings of yoghurt a week were up to 26% less likely to develop abnormal growths, known as adenomas, which can precede the development of bowel cancer.

Previous research has suggested that eating a lot of yoghurt might lower the risk of bowel cancer by changing the type and volume of bacteria in the gut (microbiome).

This study looked at the diets and subsequent development of different types of adenoma in 32,606 men and 55,743 women, all of whom had undergone a lower bowel endoscopy between 1986 and 2012. Every four years, the participants provided detailed information on lifestyle and diet, including how much yoghurt they ate.

During the study, the researchers documented 5811 adenomas in men and 8116 in women.

Men who ate two or more servings of yoghurt a week were 19% less likely to develop a conventional adenoma, compared to those who didn’t eat yoghurt. They were also 26% less likely to develop adenomas that were highly likely to become cancerous, and for those located in the colon rather than in the rectum. The same associations were not found among women.

According to the researchers, the two bacteria commonly found in live yoghurt, Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophiles, may lower the number of cancer-causing chemicals in the gut.

They explained the stronger link seen for adenomas growing in the colon may partly be due to the lower acidity (pH) in this part of the gut, making it a more hospitable environment for these bacteria. They also suggested yoghurt may have anti-inflammatory properties and may reduce the ‘leakiness’ of the gut as adenomas are associated with increased gut permeability.

Image credit: ©iStockphoto.com/Joe Biafore

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