Could An African Diet Cure Colon Cancer?

Food swaps are definitely making headlines. First, a team of Swedish researchers found that swapping organic for conventional eliminated pesticides in just a few days. Now a new study published in Nature details a diet swap–between black Americans and South Africans–that may have long-term implications in the fight against colon cancer.

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in America, according to the National Cancer Institute, and is more common in black Americans; it’s the second-leading cause of cancer death in this country.

Conversely, the disease is rare in rural South Africa, where people eat a diet that’s high fiber and low fat, with lots of fruits, vegetables and legumes, and very little meat.

The researchers asked a group of 20 in each country to swap diets for two weeks, with the South Africans switching to a diet that was high in fat, meat and cheese. “We made them fried chicken, burgers and fries,” study co-author Stephen J.D. O’Keefe said to the New York Times.

At the conclusion of the study, colonoscopies showed that the group that ate the traditional South African diet had reduced colon inflammation and increased levels of butyrate, a fatty acid that scientists think may reduce gut inflammation. The group that ate the high-fat diet showed elevated levels of the markers associated with colon cancer.

In just two weeks.

Naysayers may want to point out that these are both small studies with inconclusive outcomes. Me? I’m continuing to prepare more fresh organic foods for my family, and eating less meat. How about you?

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