The colon's importance seems often to be glossed over and patronized by today's mainstream approach, in which the colon is thought of simply as the body's sewer, without regard for its many critical, dynamic biologic functions. Consequently, rates of death from colon cancer are at an all time high in our country's history. Colon cancer is now the third most common cancer in the U.S.
Colorectal cancer is one of the most preventable cancers. No matter what your age, there is a lot you can do to lower your risk of developing it: there are many lifestyle changes that will successfully lower your risk.
The best way to detect colorectal cancer is to have screening tests performed on a regular basis after the age of 50 or sooner if there is a family history of this cancer or if you have had a predisposing condition. These tests may find non-cancerous tumors, called polyps, that sometimes develop into cancer. By finding them early and having them removed, you can prevent cancer from ever starting. Colorectal cancer screening tests include checking a stool sample for hidden blood, sigmoidoscopy, colonoscopy and barium enema. Talk to a health care professional about which ones may be right for you.
In general, you should see a specialist if you are over 40 and have the following symptoms:
In general, you should see a specialist if you are over 40 and have the following symptoms:
January, 2018: A study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that nonsmokers with severe gum disease were found to have a particularly elevated risk of developing colorectal cancer compared to those with no or mild gum disease.
Low fiber intakes have been strongly linked to an increased risk for developing colon cancer.
A connection between high fat consumption and breast and colon cancer (two of the most deadly forms of the disease) has appeared in many studies.
Risk of developing breast and colon cancers is significantly increased in those who spend a lot of time sitting, according to research presented in November of 2011 at the American Institute for Cancer Research.
British Medical Journal, January 2010: Those with a higher level of vitamin D in their blood are less likely to develop bowel cancer than those with low levels. A study has concluded that those with the highest levels of the vitamin were at 40% lower risk of developing the disease compared with those with the lowest levels. Researchers at the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in Lyon, France, and Imperial College London looked at vitamin D quantities in 1,248 people with bowel cancer and 1,248 controls in the largest ever study of the subject.
October, 2017: A major Chinese study involving 600,000 subjects reported that daily aspirin use results in a 34% reduced risk of developing colorectal cancer.
Previous studies also showed that aspirin has been found to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer by up to 60%, with researchers finding that 600mg of aspirin per day for 25 months substantially reduces cancer incidence after 5 years in carriers of hereditary colorectal cancer.
Alcohol is a known cause of colon cancer [Cancer Epidemiol 39:pp.67-74, 2015]
Studies at Harvard and elsewhere involving tens of thousands of women and men showed that regular meat consumption increases colon cancer risk as much as 300%. [New England Journal of Medicine 323 (1990): p.1664; Cancer Research 54 (1994): p.2390] As one Harvard School of Public health researcher noted, because of the meat content, two years on the Atkins Diet "...could initiate a cancer. It could show up as a polyp in 7 years and as colon cancer in ten." [Nutrition Action Healthletter January/February 2004: p.1]
You can increase your cancer risk by eating too much grilled red meat or chicken or even meat pan-fried at a very high temperature. Meat or chicken that is well-done or burnt appears to be the most problematic. The worrisome chemicals created by grilling meats are called heterocyclic amines (HAs). They form during grilling, broiling, or even searing meat in a very hot frying pan – when the very high temperatures break down the amino acid creatinine. There is also some concern that fats from the meat dripping onto coals create additional chemicals in smoke that may land back on the meat.
It is tragically ironic that after McDonald's CEO apparently dropped dead of a heart attack in 2004, their new CEO was in the operating room with colorectal cancer only 16 days later, and died in January of 2005.
A study of 276 patients with colon cancer links well-done red meat colon cancer. [Carcinogenesis (Vol. 22, No. 10: pp.1681-4)]
One study has revealed that every 50 grams of processed meat consumed daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 50%.
A study published in 2012 followed more than 500 colon-cancer patients in the Netherlands aged 70 and older, over 100 of which were prescribed daily low-dose "baby" aspirin after the cancer diagnosis. Between 1998 and 2007, the death rate for those prescribed aspirin was about half that of the non-aspirin users, with the greatest benefit occurring among those with more advanced cancer and in those who received no chemotherapy. [Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, November 23, 2012]
In October of 2012, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine also showed that aspirin therapy could improve colon cancer survival rates.
The longest recognized use of Larch Arabinogalactan is probably as a source of dietary fiber. It has been shown to increase the production of short-chain fatty acids, principally butyrate and proprionate. These special fatty acids are critically important for the health of the colon: Having an adequate supply of these fatty acids is thought to make colon cells more resistant to both tumor promotion and a variety of intestinal disease.
Regular and substantial consumption of green tea may provide protective effect against this type of cancer.
The Canadian Cancer Society recommends a higher fiber and lower fat diet to help lower the risk of cancer, especially colon and rectal cancers.
There has been much recent research on the relationship between cancer and dietary fat – possibly more than on any other component of the diet. A connection between high fat consumption and breast and colon cancer (two of the most deadly forms of the disease) has appeared in many studies. Experts recommend that you consume no more than 20-25% of calories from fat. That's about half of the fat that most Americans eat. You should also choose modest amounts of appropriate vegetable oils.
Study subjects who ate two or more servings of fish weekly had a much lower risk for esophageal, stomach, colon, rectum, and pancreatic cancers than those who avoided fish. In fact, the rates of these types of cancer were 30-50% lower among fish eaters. High fish consumption was also associated with lower risks for cancers of the larynx (30% lower risk), endometrial cancer (20% lower risk), and ovarian cancer (30% lower risk).
Vegetables from the cabbage family (cruciferous vegetables) may reduce the risk of colon cancer. [The National Cancer Institute booklet, "Diet, Nutrition, & Cancer Prevention: A Guide to Food Choices"]
You should drink under one alcoholic drink a day because drinking alcohol increases your risk of colorectal cancer. Since it can have both positive and negative effects on your health, you may wish to talk to a health care professional about how alcohol may affect you.
It was suggested in 1970 by Burkitt that dietary fiber reduces the risk of colorectal cancer, based on lower rates of this cancer in populations eating a high fiber diet. The RDA of total fiber is 20-30gm. In Scotland, for example, where the average fiber intake is very low at only 2-3gm per day, there is a very high incidence of colon cancer.
Since then, numerous studies and meta-analyses have been performed, with mixed results. The situation is complicated by there being various different types of dietary fiber, by the long periods of time involved (colon cancer can take decades to develop). The overall consensus is that, yes, a high fiber diet does reduce the risk of developing colorectal cancer – and eating a healthy, high fiber diet is good for many other reasons too.
Many studies involve only short-term adjustments to diet, or one specific fiber such as wheat bran. Convincing epidemiological evidence suggests that a healthy diet has its greatest preventive effect as a lifelong commitment, not as a temporary measure.
Dr. Tim Byers, M.D., M.P.H. from the University of Colorado School of Medicine stated that "...observational studies around the world continue to find that the risk of colorectal cancer is lower among populations with high intakes of fruits and vegetables and that the risk changes on adoption of a different diet, but we still do not understand why." [NEJM, January 22, 1999, NEJM 342: pp.1149-62, 2000.]
Diets high in fiber-rich foods may reduce the risk of cancers of the colon and rectum. [The National Cancer Institute booklet "Diet, Nutrition, & Cancer Prevention: A Guide to Food Choices"]
A long-term high consumption of milk, but not calcium, vitamin D or fermented milk, was associated with a reduced risk of colon cancer in a study of 9,959 men and women aged 15 years or older without history of cancer at baseline who were
followed for 24 years. [Eur J Clin Nutr 2001, 55(11): pp.1000-7]
In contrast, a massive 2003 study (almost 150,000 subjects) found that increased calcium and vitamin D intake (from supplements) was probably responsible for reduced risk of this cancer [American Journal of Epidemiology 158 (2003): p.621]. Dairy products were found NOT to be protective [Cancer Causes Control 14 (2003): p.1]. Bearing in mind the other negative aspects of dairy product consumption, using multiple vitamin supplements instead may be the better choice.
Try to get at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day.
Long-term use of a multivitamin containing 400mcg of folic acid, found mostly in leafy green vegetables, beans and nuts, may reduce the risk of colon cancer in women by as much as 75%. The investigators in one study found that folic acid obtained from dietary supplements had a stronger protective effect against colon cancer than folic acid consumed in the diet. In other words, although foods naturally high in folate may provide other beneficial micronutrients, consumption of these foods is probably less effective than use of supplements and fortified foods in enhancing folate status. [Annals of Internal Medicine October 1, 1998;129: pp.517-24]
In October of 2003, a massive study of almost 150,000 people was published and found that those who reported they regularly took multivitamin supplements were less likely to be diagnosed a decade later with colon cancer [American Journal of Epidemiology 158 (2003): p.621]. Breaking down the various nutrients, it is thought that perhaps it was the increased calcium and vitamin D intake from supplements that was responsible for the reduced risk [Cancer Causes Control 14 (2003): p.1] Note that dairy products were NOT found to be protective.
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