EUROPEAN CANCER PREVENTION (ECP) CONSENSUS PANEL STATEMENT ON CEREALS, FIBRE AND COLORECTAL AND BREAST CANCERS

The European Cancer Organization held a meeting in Italy in October 1997. Twenty-two experts in the field of diet and cancer agreed on a consensus statement as follows:

  • A diet rich in high-fibre cereal is associated with a reduced risk of colorectal cancer.
  • There is suggestive evidence that cereal fibre protects against breast cancer.
  • There is good reason to examine the relationship between cereal fibre intake and risk of cancer at other sites.

The European Cancer Organization supported its statement by proposing a variety of mechanisms for the protective effect of cereal fibre.

The European Cancer Prevention Consensus Statement is, however, not supported by findings from some prospective studies where no protective effect of dietary fibre against colorectal cancer was found (Fuchs et al. 1999, Pietinen et al. 1999, Lundin et al. 2001c, Terry et al. 2001a). However, a recent study of Larsson et al (2005) suggested that  high consumption of whole grains is associated with a lower risk of colon cancer among women. Similar results were found in a study of Bingham et al. (2003) where doubling of total dietary fibre intake from foods in populations
with low average intake of dietary fibre could reduce the risk of colorectal cancer by 40%.

The results show the complexity of the relationship between diet and cancer, and are expected to be followed up by large-scale prospective studies using questionnaires and biomarkers in blood, including studies on populations with a high consumption of cereal fibre. More dietary intervention studies with cancer or surrogate markers for cancer as endpoints are also needed.


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