A recently published analysis of two large scale studies examined the association of yogurt consumption and colorectal polyps risk, the pre-cancerous clumps of cells in the inner lining of the colon that can be identified via colonoscopy, which may develop to colorectal cancer. The analysis found that higher frequency of yogurt intake in the study participants was associated with decreased risk of colorectal/colon polyps. Hence including yogurt in our diets can be beneficial.
I’m sure that like myself, many of you all are dreading that day. You might be a little confused right now as to what day I am talking about but take a look, deep inside yourself, and ask yourself what is it that you fear the most? The day being referred to is of course the day in which you are scheduled to take your first colonoscopy, a routine medical procedure during which a doctor will insert a tube with a camera attached through your anus so that he can inspect your colon and rectum. Some of you might have already had the good fortune to go through this experience but jokes aside, the reason why doctors perform this procedure is to, among other things, check for any potential developments of colon cancer.
One of the things that doctors look for to scan for colorectal cancer are small clumps of cells which form around the inner linings of the colon and are known as colon polyps. Essentially, this may be both a blessing and a curse but in the case of most cancers, the tumor does not develop over night but slowly over the course of many years during which you won’t actually experience any symptoms. Hence, colon polyps, which come in two categories- neoplastic and non-neoplastic, are screened for in elderly people because some of these polyps can very easily develop into a full blown tumor and cause colorectal cancer. Now, one of the things that is known to scientists and medical researchers about this cancer is that lifestyle plays a pretty significant role in terms of an increased or decreased risk of diagnosis. So for example, if you are a smoker, overweight, or older than 50, the risk of developing colorectal polyps can greatly increase. Based on this knowledge, scientists have been testing what food supplements can help decrease this risk and one of the foods that has recently come into play is yogurt.
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Yogurt Intake & Risk of Colorectal/Colon Polyps
Published this year in 2020, researchers from Vanderbilt University in the United States analyzed two large-scale colonoscopy-based studies to determine the effect that yogurt can have in terms of decreasing the risk of getting diagnosed with colorectal/colon cancer. Yogurt is extremely popular and makes up a significant portion of dairy consumption in Europe and the rate is also growing in the United States as well due to the perceived health benefits. The two studies reviewed was the Tennessee Colorectal Polyp Study which consisted of 5,446 participants as well as the Johns Hopkins Biofilm Study which consisted of 1,061 participants. The yogurt consumption of each participant from these studies was obtained through detailed questionnaires conducted on a daily basis. After examining the results, the researchers found “in the two colonoscopy-based case-control studies that frequency of yogurt consumption was associated with a trend towards decreased odds of colorectal/colon polyps”, indicating a reduced risk of colorectal cancer (Rifkin SB et al, Br J Nutr., 2020). These results did vary depending on gender but overall, yogurt did show a beneficial effect.
The reason why yogurt has proved to be medically beneficial is because of the lactic acid found in yogurt due to the fermentation process and the lactic-acid producing bacteria. This bacteria has shown its ability to strengthen the body’s mucosal immune system, reduce inflammation, and decrease the concentration of secondary bile acids and carcinogenic metabolites. Plus, yogurt has been widely consumed the world over, does not seem to have any harmful effects and tastes great, hence a good nutritional addon to our diets.
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