Washington: Regular consumption of yoghurt may help to lower pre-cancerous bowel growth risk in men, recent findings suggest. Eating two or more weekly servings of yoghurt may help to lower the risk of developing the abnormal growths of tissues (adenomas) which precede the development of bowel cancer, a recent study published in the journal Gut suggested.
The observed associations were strongest for adenomas that are highly likely to become cancerous, and for those located in the colon rather than in the rectum, the findings indicate.
Previously published research has suggested that eating a lot of yoghurts might lower the risk of bowel cancer by changing the type and volume of bacteria in the gut (microbiome). But it's not been clear whether yoghurt intake might also be associated with a lower risk of pre-cancerous growths, known as adenomas.
The researchers, therefore, looked at the diets and subsequent development of different types of adenoma among 32,606 men who were part of the Health Professionals Follow Up Study and 55,743 women who were part of the Nurses Health Study.
All the study participants had had a lower bowel endoscopy--a procedure that enables a clinician to view the inside of the gut--between 1986 and 2012. And every four years, they provided detailed information on lifestyle and diet, including how much yoghurt they ate.
During the study period, 5811 adenomas developed in the men and 8116 in the women. Compared with men who didn't eat yoghurt, those who ate two or more servings a week were 19 per cent less likely to develop a conventional adenoma.
This lower risk was even greater (26 per cent) for adenomas that were highly likely to become cancerous, and for those located in the colon rather than in the rectum.
While no obvious association was seen for men with a potentially more dangerous type of adenoma (serrated), a trend towards reduced risk was seen for those measuring 1 or more cm, which is considered to be large.
By way of a possible explanation for what they found, the researchers point out that Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus, two bacteria commonly found in live yoghurt, may lower the number of cancer-causing chemicals in the gut.
And 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 add. Alternatively, yoghurt may have anti-inflammatory properties and may reduce the 'leakiness' of the gut as adenomas are associated with increased gut permeability, they suggest.