Fibre, Wholegrain Cereals and Cancer – Position Statement

Consumption of fibre and wholegrain cereal foods are associated with a lower risk of common lifestyle diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Evidence is now building for the importance of including wholegrain foods regularly in a cancer prevention diet.

There is convincing evidence that dietary fibre decreases the risk of bowel cancer. There is insufficient evidence on dietary fibre to make a conclusion regarding a link with other cancers such as breast, prostate and ovarian.

Dietary fibre occurs naturally in foods such as wholegrain cereals, fruit, vegetables, seeds, nuts and legumes. Fibre is the edible part of plants resistant to digestion and absorption in the small bowel of humans. Dietary fibre can also be added to foods such as white bread to increase their fibre content.

Wholegrain and wholemeal cereal foods are those that include the outer layers of the grain, including the bran and germ. Products made from wholegrains such as wheat, brown rice, corn, oats, rye, barley, millet and sorghum are an important part of a healthy diet as they are excellent sources of vitamins, minerals, protein, dietary fibre and protective phytochemicals.

Dietary fibre is encouraged as part of a varied and nutritious diet. Current recommendations are for women to eat four to six serves of grain foods per day, mostly wholegrain and/or high fibre varieties per day (higher when pregnant or breastfeeding), and for men to eat six serves per day.

Cancer Council recommends people eat at least four serves of wholegrain or wholemeal foods every day (or ensure about half their daily serves of breads and cereals are wholegrain or wholemeal varieties) and to eat at least two serves of fruit per day and five serves of vegetables per day including legumes. This advice is consistent with the Australian Dietary Guidelines.

As the benefits of fibre may be from the combination of nutrients working together, it is recommended that whole foods be consumed rather than a dietary fibre supplement.

See the full position statement:
Fibre, Wholegrain Cereals and Cancer Position Statement