Dietary Fiber, Fiber-Containing Foods, and Colon Cancer Risk

  • L. R. Jacobs


A number of national agencies, many of which are involved in formulating public health policy, have recommended major increases in the consumption of dietary fiber. Among the justifications used for such recommendations is that this will help inhibit the development of colorectal cancer. Some agencies have even attempted to “identify” the type and level of fiber that is anticarcinogenic. However, such health claims are, in the opinion of this author, premature since the human data on dietary fiber and cancer is at best circumstantial and certainly not consistent. There are many studies in both humans and experimental animals that show no protective effect with fiber, while several reports even indicate an enhancing effect. It is therefore important to evaluate critically the scientific evidence both for and against the dietary fiber hypothesis. For some investigators working in this area of cancer control, the fiber question has almost become a religious issue with believers and skeptics. Unfortunately, this has led to a politicization of the issues and a certain lack of objectivity in interpretation of the data. This situation has been further complicated by commercial pressures to eat more fiber, the supplementation of prepared foods with fibers, and by aggressive advertising of fiber supplements to the medical profession and general public.


Bile Acid Dietary Fiber Wheat Bran Colon Carcinogenesis Tumor Enhancement 
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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • L. R. Jacobs
    • 1
  1. 1.Section of Nutrition, Division of GastroenterologyCedars-Sinai Medical CenterLos AngelesUSA

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