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Can Yogurt and Fiber Reduce Mesothelioma Risk?

reduce mesothelioma risk

The findings of a new lung cancer study suggest that eating yogurt and fiber might help reduce mesothelioma risk. 

The study in JAMA Oncology involved more than 1.4 lung cancer patients from around the world. 

Researchers assessed the results of 10 dietary studies between 2017 and 2019. They found a “synergistic association” between eating fiber and yogurt and a lower risk of lung cancer. 

Pleural mesothelioma is a lung-related cancer with many of the same characteristics as lung cancer. It is possible that the same dietary habits might reduce mesothelioma risk, too. 

The Yin and Yang of an Anti-Cancer Diet

The lung cancer researchers did not choose to study yogurt and fiber randomly. Dietary fiber is the main source of prebiotics. Yogurt contains probiotics. 

Together, these two foods help balance the gut microbiome. There is evidence that a good balance of bacteria in the gut may help ward off cancer by reducing inflammation. 

Malignant mesothelioma is strongly linked to inflammation. The idea that a balanced microbiome could reduce mesothelioma risk or lung cancer incidence has not been well-studied. The goal of this study was to see if the two are linked.  

Eating to Reduce Mesothelioma Risk

The best way to reduce mesothelioma risk is to avoid any exposure to asbestos. Any level of asbestos exposure can raise the odds of contracting malignant mesothelioma even decades later. 

People with asbestos exposure in their background have to be especially diligent about diet and lifestyle. Smoking, for instance, can raise the odds of eventually receiving a mesothelioma diagnosis.

The longest-living mesothelioma patients eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and lean protein and avoid smoking. But the new findings indicate that even smokers might reduce their mesothelioma risk with yogurt and fiber.

Cancer Risk, Yogurt, and Fiber

Out of the 1.4 million people studied, 18,882 either had or developed lung cancer over the course of 8 years. Researchers compared how much fiber and yogurt these people ate to see what role it might have played in their cancer. 

People in the top fifth of fiber-eaters had a 17 percent lower risk of lung cancer compared to people in the bottom fifth. People who ate an average of three to four ounces of yogurt a day were 19 percent less likely to get lung cancer than non-yogurt eaters. 

But the most important news for people wishing to reduce mesothelioma risk came from those who ate the highest levels of both yogurt and fiber. These patients reduced their risk for lung cancer by more than 30 percent. This risk was lower even among people who had smoked.

“Our findings suggest a potential protective role of prebiotics and probiotics against lung carcinogenesis [cancer development],” writes senior author Dr. Xiao-Ou Shu of Vanderbilt University.


Yang, JJ, et al, “Association of Dietary Fiber and Yogurt Consumption With Lung Cancer Risk”, October 24, 2019, JAMA Oncology, https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaoncology/article-abstract/2753175

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