In a recent study published on the medical journal Gut, researchers from the Department of Surgery at Washington University School of Medicine in Saint Louis, Missouri, found that men who ate at least two pots of yogurt a week had a nearly 20 percent lowered risk of developing adenomas, or growths that lead to bowel cancer, than men who didn't eat the fermented snack food.
In addition, those who ate yogurt also had a 26 percent decreased risk of developing adenomas that were highly likely to become malignant.
The study, however, did not find any link between yogurt consumption and adenoma development in women.
The researchers sourced their data from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study and the Nurses' Health Study.
According to the research team, they examined data on 32,606 male and 55,743 female health professionals who had a colonoscopy between 1986 and 2012. The study participants also provided detailed information about their health, lifestyle, eating and exercise habits every four years.
Over the course of the 26-year study, the researchers identified 5,811 adenomas among the men and 8,116 adenomas among the women.
As detailed in Gut, the researchers speculate that one possible explanation may be that two probiotics present in yogurt -- Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus -- help lower the number of carcinogens in the gut, such as nitroreductase, fecal activated bacterial enzymes and soluble fecal bile acids.
The researchers also said that their findings support previous research that suggests consuming yogurt may lower a person’s bowel cancer risk by altering both the type and volume of bacteria present in the gastrointestinal tract. (Related: Which one’s better for your health – Greek yogurt or regular yogurt?)
The researchers stress however that their findings are all observational, and that more research is needed in order to explain the mechanics behind this association.
“Our data provide novel evidence for the role of yogurt in the early stage of colorectal cancer development and the potential of gut bacteria in modulating this process,” Yin Cao, a co-author of the study, said in an interview with Healio Gastroenterology and Liver Disease.
“The findings, if confirmed by future studies, suggest that yogurt might serve as a widely acceptable modifiable factor, which could complement colorectal cancer screening and/or reduce risk of adenoma among the unscreened,” Cao added.
Before heading to your local grocer to stock up on yogurt, however, know that not all yogurt is made the same.
As commercial varieties are usually sold with added sugar, flavors and colors, it is best to consume only the plain and authentic Greek varieties. Also, make sure you purchase yogurt that contains live and active cultures in order to ensure that you get the most out of its health-promoting properties.
Consuming pure yogurt without any additives such as artificial colors and flavors can offer plenty of health benefits:
To learn more about the health benefits of yogurt and other fermented foods, visit Yogurt.news.