Plant foods, fiber, and rectal cancer.


Slattery ML.




Am J Clin Nutr


BACKGROUND: Associations between colon and rectal cancer and intakes of vegetables, other plant foods, and fiber have stimulated much debate. OBJECTIVE: We examined the association between rectal cancer and plant food and fiber intakes. DESIGN: Data from 952 incident cases of rectal cancer were compared with data from 1205 population-based controls living in Utah or enrolled in the Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program in northern California RESULTS: Rectal cancer was inversely associated with intakes of vegetables (odds ratio: 0.72; 95% CI: 0.54, 0.98), fruit (0.73; 0.53, 0.99), and whole-grain products (0.69; 0.51, 0.94), whereas a high intake of refined-grain products was directly associated with an increased risk of rectal cancer (1.42; 1.04, 1.92). Similarly, relative to low fiber intakes, high intakes of dietary fiber reduced the risk of rectal cancer (0.54; 0.37, 0.78). The reduced risk of rectal cancer associated with vegetable (0.48; 0.29, 0.80), fruit (0.63; 0.38, 1.06), and fiber (0.40; 0.22, 0.71) intakes was strongest for persons who received the diagnosis after age 65 y. A threshold effect at approximately 5 servings of vegetables/d was needed to see a reduced risk of rectal cancer. CONCLUSIONS: The results suggest that plant foods may be important in the etiology of rectal cancer in both men and women. Age at diagnosis appears to play an important role in the association.