Diet can change biomarkers of colon cancer risk

The higher rates of colon cancer in Americans of African origin compared to South Africans are usually attributed to diets containing more animal protein and fat and less fibre. O’Keefe et al. investigated (in a paper published in Nature Communications) the role of fat and fibre in this association by conducting 2-week-long food changes in volunteers from both populations: African-Americans received an African-style diet high in fibre and low in fat, while rural Africans received a high-fat, low-fibre ‘Western’ diet.

The authors noted, when compared with the participants’ usual diets, the food changes led to “remarkable reciprocal changes in mucosal biomarkers of cancer risk”. The dietary switch also changed the microbiota and metabolome in ways known to affect cancer risk.


O’Keefe SJD, et al. (2015) Fat, fibre and cancer risk in African Americans and rural Africans. Nature Communications doi:10.1038/ncomms7342

Paul Enck
Paul Enck
Prof. Dr. Paul Enck, Director of Research, Dept. of Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy, University Hospital Tübingen, Germany. His main interests are gut functions in health and disease, including functional and inflammatory bowel disorders, the role of the gut microbiota, regulation of eating and food intake and its disorders, of nausea, vomiting and motion sickness, and the psychophysiology and neurobiology of the placebo response, with specific emphasis on age and gender contributions. He has published more than 170 original data paper in scientific, peer-reviewed journals, and more than 250 book chapters and review articles. He is board member/treasurer of the European Society of Neurogastroenterology and Motility and of the German Society of Neurogastroenterology and Motility, and has served as reviewer for many international journals and grant agencies.