Cassie Li (Registered Dietitian, UK)
According to Cancer Registry 2016, there are 5437 new cases of bowel cancer in Hong Kong which accounted for 17.3% of all new cancer cases. Bowel cancer is now the commonest cancer in Hong Kong. Cancer Research UK says that 54% of these cases are preventable.
Although many factors can contribute to a person’s risk of developing colorectal cancer, one of the most prominent ones is poor diet. Previous studies have reported that eating yoghurt may protect against the risk of colorectal cancer (CRC), however, no study evaluated the association between yoghurt intake and precursor of colorectal cancer.
A recent observational study published in the BMJ journal Gut investigating the association between different foods and the risk of tumours or precancerous growths found a link between a reduced risk of adenomas in men and high consumption of yoghurt. This study included 32,606 men and 55,743 women and they have a lower bowel endoscopy in 1986 - 2012 to detect the presence of any abnormal growths inside the lower part of the bowel. All participants had provided information regarding their lifestyle and dietary habit once every 4 years. This included information regarding yoghurt consumption.
It was found that men who reported consuming two or more servings of yoghurt per week were 19% less likely to develop precancerous growths in the bowel compared with men who reported eating no yoghurt at all. Moreover, men who ate two or more servings of yoghurt per week were 26% less likely to develop growths with a high likelihood of developing into malignant tumours in the colon.
Hang on a minute, is being a vegan miss out on this potential protective effect?
The researcher suggested that the products of the two common probiotics used in yoghurt, Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus may reduce levels of carcinogens such as nitrogenase, faecal activated bacterial enzymes, and soluble faecal bile acids. Yoghurt may also reduce adenoma risk by exerting anti-inflammatory effects on colon mucosa and ameliorating gut barrier dysfunction.
The GF Vegan Yogurt recipe we shared are also full of these probiotics, hence, may still proceed the same protective effect. However, further research is needed to establish the possible mechanism.