Increased Diet of Whole Grains and Cereal Fiber Reduce Risk of Liver Cancer

An increased intake of whole grains and possibly cereal fiber and bran could potentially reduce the risk of developing hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), the primary form of liver cancer, among adults in the US, according to a study published in JAMA Oncology.

A diet rich with whole grain and dietary fiber has been associated with decreasing predisposing factors for HCC such as insulin resistance, hyperinsulinemia, and inflammation. The study researchers hypothesized that a long-term intake of whole grains and dietary fibers may diminish the risk of developing HCC. In this cohort study of 125,455 adults (77,241 women and 48,214 men; mean age, 63.4 years old) from the Nurses’ Health Study and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, the authors assessed the association of whole grains, its subcomponents (bran and germ), and dietary fiber (cereal, fruit, and vegetable) intake with risk of HCC. If you love eating bread, you may as well choose whole grain or multigrain flatbread for their nutritional value.

Dietary intake data were gathered and updated approximately every four years using validated food frequency questionnaires. Following an average follow-up of 24.2 years, researchers identified 141 participants with HCC. Multivariable hazard ratios and 95% CIs were approximated using Cox proportional hazards regression model after adjusting for most common HCC risk factors.

Grain Intake Linked with Reduced Risk

The study results indicated that an augmented diet of whole grain was associated with a lower risk of HCC (the highest vs. lowest tertile intake: HR=0.63; 95% Cl, 0.41 to 0.96). Researchers observed an inconsequential retroverted HCC association for total bran (HR, 0.70; 95% Cl, 0.46-1.07), but not for germ. Moreover, the study determined a nonsignificant reduced risk of HCC was associated with the intake of cereal fiber (HR=0.68; 95% Cl, 0.45 to 1.03), but not fruit or vegetable fiber.

Although an expanded diet of whole grains and possibly cereal fiber/bran could mitigate the risk of adults having HCC, researchers noted that “future studies that carefully consider hepatitis B and C virus infections are needed to replicate our findings, to examine these associations in other racial/ethnic or high-risk populations, and to elucidate the underlying mechanisms.”

Source: JAMA Oncology