SUNDAY, Aug. 7 — Fiber is already recommended as part of a healthy diet, but new studies now show that along with its other benefits, dietary fiber helps prevent colon cancer.

It was previously believed that dietary fiber did not help protect against colon cancer.

Eating the recommended amount of fiber could reduce the risk of colon cancer by as much as 40 percent, according to an article in the August issue of the Harvard Men’s Health Watch. The Institutes of Medicine recommend that men younger than 50 consume 38 grams of fiber a day, while men over age 50 should consume 30 grams of fiber a day.

The article also noted that other studies have shown that dietary fiber provides other health benefits by reducing the risk of diabetes, heart disease and intestinal problems. For example, a Harvard study found that men who ate the most fiber (an average of 28.9 grams per day) had 41 percent fewer heart attacks over six years than men who ate the least fiber.

Studies have also found that a high-fiber diet leads to a 42 percent reduction in diverticulosis, an intestinal condition that affects about half of all Americans over age 60, the article said.

“You stand to gain a lot from dietary fiber, but to get all these benefits, you need to eat a good mix of high-fiber foods,” Dr. Harvey Simon, editor-in-chief of the Harvard Men’s Health Watch, said in a prepared statement.

Good sources of fiber include the bran of whole grains, the leaves and stems of plants, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables.
More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians offers tips on how to increase your fiber intake.