Consuming just two servings of yogurt, every week, could notably lower your risk for developing bowel cancer, according to a new study from the University of Washington.
The study tracked more than 32,000 men (and nearly 56,000 women) for a period of 25 years. Each of those who participated had a lower bowel endoscopy, a procedure that allows clinicians to view the inside of the gut. The study found that those who ate at least two portions of yogurt, weekly, appeared to have 19 percent fewer adenoma growths (a precursor to bowel cancer) and 26 percent were at a lower risk for the most high-risk types of bowel cancer.
It should be noted that this study was simply observational, and that means the study authors did not determine whey yogurt might have this benefits. However, scientists theorize that Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophiles may be the reason for the benefit. These are two types of beneficial bacteria commonly found in many yogurt products, and they appear to help lower the presence of cancer causing chemicals in the gut.
These bacteria also have anti-inflammatory properties that could reduce gut leakiness, which could also help reduce risk for developing the disease.
Those involved with the study would report very detailed information about their lifestyle and diet, every four years. This data, of course, included how much yogurt they consumed. During the study period, 5,811 per-cancerous growths developed in men; 8,116 developed in women.
Cancer Research UK health information officer Katie Patrick comments, “The colon is home to trillions of microbes and how the bacteria in our gut might affect bowel cancer risk is a fascinating area of research. Lots of things affect the types of bugs in your gut and our overall gut health, including the foods we eat.”
And while the study suggests that men who ate yogurt had a lower risk for developing these growths, they did not find a similar association among the women in the test group.
That in mind, Patrick does not necessarily advise that men should start indulging in yogurt. For one, it is too early in the study to say that yogurt definitely reduces adenoma development. However, the evidence is definitely strong enough to suggest that yogurt could be part of a healthy diet that is high in fiber—like wholegrain bread and brown rice—and lower in processed meat, to reduce overall cancer risk.