A new study from a California research team suggests that eating more legumes (dried beans, dried peas and lentils) at least three times a week can cut the risk of developing colon polyps (which can lead to cancer) by 33 percent. Brown rice reduces the risk, too, by 40 percent. Researchers at Loma Linda University also found that eating cooked green vegetables at least once a day, and dried fruit at least three times a week offers additional protection. The researchers analyzed data from more than 2,800 adults in the Adventist Health Study-1 performed in 1976-77, including information on participants who responded to a follow up study 26 years later. The first study asked participants how often they consumed specific foods. The investigators also considered other factors that could influence colon cancer risk, including family history of the disease, education, physical activity level, and constipation. They also checked alcohol intake, how often the participants ate sweets, used pain medication and took multivitamins. The study was published in the May 2011 issue of Nutrition and Cancer.
My take? These new findings provide welcome support for dietary strategies that aim to help prevent both colon polyps and colon cancer. In addition to eating the high fiber foods associated with lower risks of colon polyps seen in this study, we already know that avoiding red meat can reduce the risks of polyps and colon cancer. I also recommend limiting alcohol intake - research has suggested that the more alcohol you drink, the higher your risk of developing colon cancer. Another dietary tip: Make green tea your beverage of choice. Regular consumption of green tea is linked with lower incidence of many kinds of cancer.