Men who eat at least two servings of yogurt a week could have a reduced risk for developing precancerous growths in the bowel, according to data published in Gut.
“Our data provide novel evidence for the role of yogurt in early stage of colorectal cancer development and the potential of gut bacteria in modulating this process,” Yin Cao, ScD, MPH, of the department of surgery at Washington University School of Medicine in Saint Louis, told Healio Gastroenterology and Liver Disease. “The findings, if confirmed by future studies, suggest that yogurt might serve as a widely acceptable modifiable factor, which could complement colorectal cancer screening and/or reduce risk of adenoma among the unscreened.”
Researchers prospectively evaluated a potential link between eating yogurt and risk for conventional adenoma and serrated lesions using data from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study and the Nurses’ Health Study. They analyzed data from 32,606 men and 55,743 women who underwent lower endoscopy between 1986 and 2012 and provided demographic, lifestyle and diet —including yogurt intake — every four years.
Investigators identified 5,811 adenomas among the men and 8,116 adenomas among the women. They found that men who ate at least two servings of yogurt a week had a lower risk for conventional adenoma (OR = 0.81; 95% CI, 0.71–0.94). This inverse association was even higher for adenomas that had malignant potential compared with those that were low-risk (OR = 0.74; 95% CI, 0.59–0.92). The link was also stronger for adenomas located in the colon compared with rectal adenomas (OR = 0.82; 95% CI, 0.7–0.95).
Researchers observed no association between adenomas and yogurt intake among women.
Cao and colleagues wrote that this association could be due to a few things, including the presence of Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus in yogurt and their potential to reduce levels of carcinogens like nitroreductase, fecal activated bacterial enzymes and soluble fecal bile acids. The stronger link between reduction of colon adenomas and yogurt intake could be due to lower pH levels in the colon that allow probiotics to be more effective.
“Yogurt may also reduce adenoma risk by exerting anti-inflammatory effects on colon mucosa and ameliorating gut barrier dysfunction,” they wrote. “As male patients with adenoma present with increased gut permeability, yogurt may benefit more for men compared with women.” – by Alex Young
Disclosures: Cao reports no relevant financial disclosures. Please see the full study for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.