Start ’raisin’ awareness around bowel cancer this April!

By Rick Miller, Clinical and Sports Dietitian, Harley Street, London

April is not just about showers of rain and Easter Eggs, it’s also a time to raise awareness around bowel cancer.

According to Bowel Cancer UK, every 15 minutes someone is diagnosed with bowel cancer, young, old, female or male and for this reason we are ranked amongst the top nations in the world  for incidence of bowel cancer. So our emphasis as a nation has to be on prevention not just treatments.

Scientists believe that over half of all bowel cancer diagnoses are linked to an unhealthy lifestyle and in the same way could be prevented by adopting healthier lifestyle and eating habits.

Only a couple of months ago I was writing about how we can combat bowel cancer by just increasing fibre. Such a simple strategy that is supported wholeheartedly by leading medical and public health authorities such as the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF).

But don’t just start taking a fibre supplement, the WCRF make it clear in their summary of the existing research that low fruit consumption specifically, is associated with increased bowel cancer risk.There is good reason to suggest that raisins, such as California Raisins, have an advantage over other fruits. Sun-dried raisins like California Raisins are grapes without the water and together with the fibre and naturally occurring sugars (glucose and fructose) also contain a concentrated source of compounds called phytochemicals.

These compounds in dried fruit act in a very similar fashion to the antioxidants we’ve all read about, protecting our bodies from the damaging effects of the environment. It just so happens that raisins and other dried fruits contain a large amount of them, leading some scientists to suggest they have ‘promise’ with regards to cancer protection.

Other scientists have gone a step further and are using the extracted natural phenolic compounds in raisins to see if they can suppress the growth of specifically colorectal (bowel) cancer cells in the lab – which they appear to do. Whilst we don’t know the quantity of raisins required to get a dose that keeps cancer at bay, it’s worth watching this space.

The health benefits of California Raisins we’ve considered in the past include, slow energy release and a natural source of fibre, one aspect we’ve yet to focus on is the source of the mineral boron.

Despite the name, there’s nothing ‘boring’ about boron, a micronutrient a diverse array of physiological roles from wound healing, maintenance of bone, boosting magnesium absorption and very interestingly has also been linked to a protective effect against cancer. Just one handful serving (about 30g) of California Raisins provides approximately a third of our boron needs for the day.

So during April, when the talk of bowel cancer prevention is at its peak, perhaps show your support this year in a different way by eating a serving of California Raisins; contributing to your fibre and boron levels and maybe it might make the difference to elude bowel cancer one raisin at a time.

For further details please email

About the Author:

Rick Miller is a registered Clinical and Sports Dietitian based in Harley Street, London.

You can find out more about Rick at