30 Apr The Connection Between Liver Cancer & Whole Grains
According to findings recently reported by the AACR (American Association for Cancer Research), a diet rich in fibre and whole grains can lower the risk of liver cancer.
For many decades now, a number of research and studies have commended the positive correlation between dietary fibre and lowered risk of inflammation and insulin resistance – both of which have been linked to a number of diseases including diabetes and liver cancer.
With this in mind, researchers decided to conduct trials to establish a clear connection between eating a wholegrain diet and reduced risk of liver cancer.
Two large data sets were used for the study: one comprising of women only which originally began in 1976, while the other was an all-male study which was initiated in 1986.
Establishing the Link between a Fibre-rich Diet and Improved Liver Health
In both cases, every four years on average, participants were asked to complete a questionnaire about dietary habits.
This was done up to 32 years.
During this span, just 141 of the total 125,000+ participants were diagnosed with hepatocellular carcinoma – liver cancer.
It was observed that a high wholegrain diet was linked with lowered liver cancer risk, in contrast with the lower wholegrain diet.
However, it was also revealed that specific kinds of wholegrain diets are more suitable for improving liver health.
To understand the scope of the results, we should understand the three main parts of a wholegrain seed:
The bran is the outer layer of the seed, the endosperm is the middle layer, while the germ is the core of the seed.
You may have come across “wheat germ” on a number of cereal boxes while picking up the groceries.
On the other hand, refined grains like white bread, white rice and white flour are whole grains that have undergone processing to get rid of the bran and germ.
So we’re left with the endosperm – the middle layer – which houses starchy carbohydrates, vitamins and proteins.
However, our bodies fare much better in terms of liver and digestive health because natural, non-processed wholegrains contain the bran and germ which house essential nutrients like minerals, vitamins, healthy fats and phytochemicals.
The researchers concluded that in contrast with a lower bran consumption, higher bran consumption was related to a lower risk of liver cancer – however, this finding was not conclusive enough to establish any statistical significance.
Furthermore, no positive correlation could be established for consuming germ in higher amounts.
It was also concluded that consuming more cereal-based fibre lead to a lower risk of liver cancer, compared to cereal fibre consumed in smaller amounts – but again, this finding could not establish statistical significance.
However, no association could be established with consuming more fibre-rich fruits and vegetables.
Since hepatitis is a risk factor for hepatocellular carcinoma, the researchers examined what might happen if people with hepatitis were excluded from the results – similar associations were found.
As it is, further research and investigation is required to determine the positive effects of a wholegrain diet in preventing liver cancer.
However, if you must choose between a diet full of refined grains and whole grains, that’s an easy one: whole grains – for better liver and overall health as well.