Could Eating More Whole Grain Reduce Cancer Risk?
Could you reduce risk by eating more whole grain?
A recent publication in the BMJ has argued that consuming a minimum of three servings of whole grains a day can reduce your risk of developing heart diseases, cancers and other serious diseases.
Involving 45 associated studies, researchers led by Dr Dagfinn Aune at Imperial College London have made “a considerable improvement of the evidence base for the level of whole grains that should be consumed to reduce the risk of chronic diseases and mortality” with the results “strongly support(ing) dietary recommendations to increase intake of whole grain foods in the general population to reduce risk of chronic diseases and premature mortality”.
Observations have shown that eating just 90g of wholegrains a day- equal to two slices of whole grain bread and one bowl of whole grain cereal- reduces the relative risk of heart disease by 19% and total cancer by 17%, with further reductions in risk when up to 7.5 servings are consumed daily.
There are also associations between higher whole grain intake and lower incidences of hypertension, which according to Public Health England is prevalent in more than a quarter of adults in England with associated diseases estimated to cost the NHS over £2 billion each year.
As a major food staple around the world, grains provide 56% of energy intake and as such there has been growing interest into the health effects associated with wholegrain consumption.
Over the last decade, investigations into the relationship between grain intake and high-incidence illnesses such as occurrences of type-2 diabetes and obesity have grown but newly emerging data from studies like those under Aune has been able to quantify recommendations.
As such, inconsistencies in amounts and types of whole grain foods needed to reduce mortality can be struck off with Public Health services now able to offer more accurate and specific guidelines.
However, a full picture has yet to be drawn.
Most of the studies examined emerged from research centers in the US alone, whilst scientists at the Indian Council of Medical Research call into question the completeness of the research given a lack of insight into health outcomes from gluten-free diets.
Dr. Aune’s team however hopes that growing interest into whole grains can encourage further complex studies in areas with higher and lower wholegrain consumptions which promises to widen perspectives into health outcomes.
It is easy then to see why there is such excitement surrounding whole grain. But, that doesn’t mean it should become the be-all and end-all of one’s diet.
Dr Carlos Echevarria, a doctor at Northumbria Health Care NHS Foundation Trust, responded to the study by saying that “Eating whole grain, which is recommended as a healthy life-style choice, may be associated with any number of confounders such as education, exercise, and the consumption (or lack of) of other foods.”
Also referring to previous health surveys, he calls for a distinction to be made between “the absolute and proportional intakes of carbohydrate” since “for some, a high calorie intake of wholegrain food may be unhelpful, whilst calorie restriction, through very low calorie diets or diets low in carbohydrate and high in fat, may have health benefits.”
The buzz surrounding whole grain should be considered given that its emerging health benefits are clearly evident from its place in international research.
It is such scientific studies into human wellbeing that provides public health services with the ability to offer guidelines.
Alivia’s U.K. Managing Director Richard Kensett comments;
“This is yet more research showing that diet is something that should be under consideration when talking about serious disease. Nevertheless, there is no miracle approach to avoiding disease. At Alivia, we encourage a multi-disciplinary approach including lifestyle, diet and your own personal medical intelligence through annual or biennial Body & Mind MOTs.”