Better go stock up on yogurt – at least according to a new study published in the BMJ journal Gut from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The research suggests that eating yogurt can lower the risk of precancerous growths called adenoma in your bowel – that is, if you’re a man.
Because colorectal cancers are known to be impacted by diet, there are currently many studies researching the associations between different foods and the risk of tumors or precancerous growths. In this most recent observational study, researchers determined a 19% lower risk of adenomas associated for men who eat yogurt. They did not find the same results for women.
The study authors think that eating yogurt could lower the risk of adenomas in the bowel because of yogurt’s microbiome and its anti-inflammatory qualities. "Products of the two common probiotics used in yogurt, Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus, may reduce levels of carcinogens such as nitroreductase, fecal activated bacterial enzymes, and soluble fecal bile acids," the authors write. “The stronger link between yogurt intake and colon versus rectal adenomas may in part [be] due to the lower pH in the colon, which is more hospitable for probiotics.” Additionally, "Yogurt may also reduce adenoma risk by exerting anti-inflammatory effects on colon mucosa and ameliorating gut barrier dysfunction."
In order to come to this conclusion, first study author Xiaobin Zheng and colleagues looked at data for the bowels of 32,606 men and 55,743 women and men. They then analyzed the diets (particularly yogurt consumption) of the participants, paying particular attention to the subsequent formation of adenomas.
According to Medical News Today, the researchers found that “men who reported eating two or more servings of yogurt per week were 19% less likely to develop precancerous growths in the bowel (conventional adenomas) compared with men who reported eating no yogurt at all, and were 26% less likely to develop abnormal growths with a high likelihood of developing into malignant tumors in the colon.”
It is unknown why women did not see such benefits. The team would like to continue this research in order to better understand the connections between the consumption of different foods and lower cancer risk.