Wednesday, June 19, 2024
HomeHealthExcess sugar and low fibre intake blamed for colorectal cancer rise

Excess sugar and low fibre intake blamed for colorectal cancer rise

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

New research presented at a major cancer conference suggests that scientists are getting closer to understanding the cause of the rise in colon cancer cases among younger individuals.

The study reveals that a combination of excessive sugar consumption and insufficient fibre intake leads to the development of gut bacteria that accelerate cell ageing. This, in turn, makes cells more prone to mutations and damage that can result in cancer, while also compromising their ability to combat tumour growth.

Another study presented at the same conference proposes that the growing epidemic of colorectal cancer in those under 50 may be partially influenced by the consumption of energy drinks. The researchers involved in this trial suggest that a component called taurine in these drinks feeds and encourages the growth of harmful gut bacteria associated with colorectal cancer.

These new findings coincide with projections that colorectal cancer rates among Americans under 50 will double from 2010 to the end of this decade. Doctors have long suspected that modern diets play a role in this rapid increase. Researchers at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting believe they are making progress in understanding how our food choices contribute to this trend.

In an abstract of their forthcoming paper, a team from Ohio State University examined genetic samples from colon cancer patients under age 50 as well as older individuals. They discovered that younger patients with low-fibre, high-sugar diets produced a bacteria known as Fusobacterium, which triggers inflammation throughout the gut by binding to proteins that promote inflammation. In contrast, fibre slows down the release of glucose in the blood and supports the growth of healthy gut bacteria, thus reducing inflammation.

Red Bull cans clearly state that the liquid within is a carbonated taurine drink.


Prolonged inflammation has been found to accelerate cell aging, and the researchers estimated that the poor diets of young colorectal cancer patients made their cells up to 15 years older than their biological age, a phenomenon referred to as ‘inflammaging’. Aging cells are more susceptible to cancer due to increased damage and higher likelihood of mutations.

Conversely, older patients with colon cancer displayed cells that aligned with their actual age. The researchers estimate that while 20 percent of young-onset colorectal cancers may be inherited, the remaining cases are still not well understood.

The study’s authors noted that their findings align with recent data suggesting that low-fibre, processed diets disrupt the balance of gut bacteria, a condition known as intestinal dysbiosis. Shockingly, 95 percent of Americans do not consume enough fiber, according to the USDA. The agency recommends a daily fibre intake of 25 to 30 grams for adults, roughly equivalent to two to three bowls of oats or one cup of chickpeas. Nonetheless, most Americans only consume about 10 to 15 grams of fibre each day.

Another research team at the University of Florida is conducting a trial to investigate the impact of energy drinks on young colorectal cancer patients. The study aims to evaluate whether taurine, an ingredient found in energy drinks such as Red Bull, promotes the growth of H2S-metabolizing bacteria, which has been linked to an increased risk of colorectal cancer. The team plans to recruit 60 colorectal cancer patients aged 18 to 40 without any family history of the disease.

As of March 2024, 32 percent of adults aged 18 to 29 regularly consume energy drinks, and among this age group, energy drinks rank as the second most popular “dietary supplement” after multivitamins.

Whole Food Living reviews and selects material from a wide variety of international sources. Our primary focus covers food, health and environment. We publish fact checked official announcements made as the result of formal studies conducted by Universities, respected health care organisations, journals, and scientists around the globe.

Sign up to our newsletter

For the latest in news, recipes and alerts be sure to sign up to our newsletter to stay up to date.

Most Popular

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest updates on plant-based evidence, recipes and opinions straight to your mailbox. 

You have Successfully Subscribed!