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Yogurt and Fiber Lower Your Chance of Lung Cancer

A study of over one million people found that those who ate the most yogurt and foods rich in fiber had less chance of lung cancer.

It makes sense that diet could help lower the risk of cancer. On the other hand, you might be surprised to learn that people who eat a lot of yogurt have a lower chance of lung cancer (JAMA Oncology, Oct. 24, 2019).

How Does Diet Affect the Chance of Lung Cancer?

This research followed more than a million individuals in Europe, Asia and the US for around 8.6 years. All of them participated in cohort studies and provided detailed information on their dietary habits, lifestyle and health. During the follow-up period, doctors diagnosed 18,822 of these people with lung cancer.

The investigators found certain dietary components lowered the volunteers’ chance of lung cancer. In addition to yogurt, fiber in the diet from produce or whole grains also protected volunteers. People with the most fiber in their diets were 17 percent less likely to get such a diagnosis than those who ate the lowest-fiber diets. Yogurt eaters had a 19 percent lower chance of lung cancer than those who never consumed it.

Combining Fiber and Yogurt for a One-Two Punch:

The combination worked best to protect against lung cancer. People who consumed the most fiber as well as the most yogurt had a 33 percent lower rate of lung cancer diagnosed. That held up even when the scientists took other risk factors such as smoking into account. Of course, smokers are at the greatest risk for lung cancer. 

Other Benefits from Fiber and Yogurt:

Fiber provides prebiotics that encourage a diverse microbiota, while live-culture yogurt introduces beneficial bacteria into the digestive tract. Intakes of both fiber and yogurt have previously been linked to lower rates of gastrointestinal cancer and cardiovascular disease. That still doesn’t explain quite how they would affect your chance of lung cancer.

Earlier this year, researchers announced that men who eat yogurt at least twice a week have lower rates of colon polyps. (Colon polyps may become colon cancer.) The gut-brain connection may even mean that yogurt lovers are less likely to develop Alzheimer disease

Years ago, scientists conducted an analysis of 10 studies of fiber and breast cancer (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Sept., 2011). Women who got more dietary fiber had a lower likelihood of a breast cancer diagnosis. For each 10 grams of additional fiber a woman eats daily, her risk of breast cancer drops by 7 percent. That reduction is small but significant.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
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