Loving the fast food life? Then you deserve to know how it's upping your risk of having colon cancer - the fourth commonest cause of death from cancer worldwide. It also affects Africans on western diets more than other races.
A group of scientists from the University of Pittsburgh and Imperial College London carried out a study with a group of 20 African American volunteers and another group of 20 participants from South Africa. The two groups swapped diets under tightly controlled conditions for two weeks.
Instead of their traditional high-fibre meals, the South Africans consumed a high-fat, high-protein diet of sausages, hash browns, burgers and fries. Meanwhile, the African Americans switched to a low-fat, high-fibre diet including corn fritters, mango slices, bean soup and fish tacos.
At the end of the two weeks, the African Americans had less inflamed colons than before, and a reduction in biological markers for cancer. However, they passed more gas (Lol..)
Meanwhile, the South Africans risk of colon cancer was raised on the western diet.
The increased risk was associated with dramatic changes in gut microbes in the two groups. On the African high-fibre diet, gut microbes produced more butyrate, a chemical that has anti-cancer properties. Meanwhile, on the high-fat western diet, the microbes produced more bile acids, which may increase cancer risk.