Lack of fibre in diets leading to increased bowel cancer cases

Around 18 per cent of all bowel cancer cases could be prevented if Queenslanders increased their fibre intake by about five grams a day[1].

Research shows that the average adult consumes five grams less than the recommended daily intake for dietary fibre of 25g for women and 30g for men.

In Queensland, around 3090 bowel cancer cases are diagnosed annually – of these, around 560 cases could be prevented simply by eating a diet high in fibre, including increasing fruit and vegetable intake.

Cancer Council Queensland CEO Ms Chris McMillan urged Queenslanders to increase their dietary fibre intake for better health.

“Queenslanders may be surprised that by increasing their dietary fibre intake by just five grams a day could help reduce their risk of bowel cancer later in life,” Ms McMillan said.

“For most adults, meeting the recommended daily intake of dietary fibre can be as simple as adding two more serves of vegetables into your diet each day.

“An alarming 93 per cent of adults in Queensland fail to fill their plates with the recommended five servings of vegetables a day – putting their short and long-term health at risk[2].”

Ms McMillan said Queenslanders needed to be more aware of the benefits of dietary fibre and know how to add fibre into their diets to reduce their cancer risk.

“Add a salad or cooked vegetables to at least two meals a day and snack on whole fruits to increase dietary fibre intake throughout the day,” Ms McMillan said.

“Or add lentils, beans, chickpeas and other legumes to soups, stir-fries and curries.

“Try to also swap white bread, pasta and rice for wholegrain and brown varieties for added fibre.”

Bowel cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed among Queensland men and women, and the third leading cause of cancer death.

Along with fibre, high alcohol consumption, smoking and being overweight or obese can also contribute to an increased risk of bowel cancer.

Cancer Council Queensland’s QUEST program has launched new resources and tools to help adults reduce their cancer risk by increasing their dietary fibre intake. To download these resources, visit

More information about Cancer Council is available at or via 13 11 20.

[1] Nagle CM, Wilson LF, Hughes MCB, Ibiebele TI, Miura K, Bain CJ, et al. Cancers in Australia in 2010 attributable to inadequate consumption of fruit, non-starchy vegetables and dietary fibre. Aust N Z J Public Health. 2015;39(5):422-8.

[2] Report of the Chief Health Officer, The Health of Queenslanders 2016; risk and protective factors.

For more information or interviews, please contact:

Laura McKoy,
Public Relations Manager,
Cancer Council Queensland
Phone: (07) 3634 5345
Mobile: 0409 001 171