Colorectal Cancer

Also known as Bowel Cancer or Colon Cancer

The Centers for Disease Control says:
Colorectal cancer is cancer that occurs in the colon or rectum. Sometimes it is called colon cancer, for short.
Sometimes abnormal growths, called polyps, form in the colon or rectum. Over time, some polyps may turn into cancer. Screening tests can find polyps so they can be removed before turning into cancer. Screening also helps find colorectal cancer at an early stage, when treatment works best.

The UK National Health Service says:
Bowel cancer is a general term for cancer that begins in the large bowel. Depending on where the cancer starts, bowel cancer is sometimes called colon or rectal cancer. Bowel cancer is one of the most common types of cancer diagnosed in the UK. Most people diagnosed with it are over the age of 60.
The exact cause of bowel cancer is not known, but there are a number of things that can increase your risk, including:
• age – almost 9 in 10 people with bowel cancer are aged 60 or over
• diet – a diet high in red or processed meats and low in fiber can increase your risk
• weight – bowel cancer is more common in overweight or obese people
• exercise – being inactive increases your risk
• alcohol – drinking alcohol might increase your risk
• smoking– smoking may increase your risk

How to reduce the risk?

The CDC says: Overall, the most effective way to reduce your risk of colorectal cancer is to get screened for colorectal cancer routinely, beginning at age 50.
Almost all colorectal cancers begin as precancerous polyps in the colon or rectum. Screening can find these polyps so they can be removed before they turn into cancer. Screening can also find colorectal cancer early, when treatment works best.
A diet low in animal fats and high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains may reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. Some studies suggest that people may reduce their risk of developing colorectal cancer by increasing physical activity, limiting alcohol consumption, and avoiding tobacco.

In “How Not to Die”, Doctor Greger has this to say about the impact of diet on colorectal cancer:
• India has low cancer rates, and there’s a suggestion that curcumin (turmeric) may be a factor.
• A phytonutrient called quercetin (found in red onions and grapes) has been found to decrease the number and size of polyps.
• Another factor is ‘intestinal transit time’ = the time it takes for food to go through the digestive system. If you don’t have daily bowel movements then you have a problem – probably not enough fiber. 24 to 36 hours is ideal. On conventional diets it can be 4 or 5 days.
• As well as fiber, another beneficial compound is ‘phytates’, found in whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds.
About phytates:
• Phytates detoxify excess iron in the body, which otherwise can create harmful free ‘hydroxyl’ radicals. Meat contains the type of iron (heme) associated with colorectal cancer, but chicken and fish may be worse than red meat. So, if you eat meat, then it’s important to also eat beans or similar to get the phytates, even though phytates are less effective on heme iron than nonheme iron found in plants.
• Phytates target cancer cells through a combination of antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and immune-enhancing activities. Also, they boost the activity of natural killer cells (white blood cells that hunt down and dispose of cancer cells).

The NHS summarizes that:
Although there are some risks you cannot change, such as your age or family history, there are several ways you can lower your chances of developing the condition.
• Eat a healthy balanced diet, with less red meat
• Lose weight if you are overweight
• Keep healthy and fit
• If you smoke, stop
• Cut down on alcohol

Sources

CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/colorectal/index.htm

NHS: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/bowel-cancer/

Link to my post on “How Not to Die

Link to my post on “Cancer

Link to my post on “Turmeric

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