The Link between Colon Cancer and an ‘Inflammatory’ Diet

According to a recent research that was published in JAMA Oncology journal, there appears to be a connection between diets that increase inflammation in the body and a higher chance of colon cancer. This cancer affects the large intestine, i.e. the colon and in most situations, it begins as tiny, non-cancerous clumps of cells known as polyps. Regular screening tests can help identify and eliminate polyps before they become cancerous.

The Findings of the Study

Fred K. Tabung of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, MA, head of the research, and his team wanted to find out if previous observations that inflammatory diets can lead to colon cancer are accurate. With this in mind, for a period of 26 years, they examined survey data on the eating habits and cancer diagnosis of 46,804 male health professionals and 74, 246 female nurses. They were divided into 5 groups on the basis of how much their diets could elevate inflammation in the body. In those who had the highest level of inflammation caused by their nutrition, the risk of colon cancer was 32 percent bigger.

Types of Inflammation and Inflammatory Diet

When it comes to inflammation, it is pivotal to note that there can be two distinct types of it; one is good inflammation or when the body’s immunity responds adequately to foreign invaders and as a result, the skin reddens and warms up in order to fight off bad bacteria. The other type is chronic or bad inflammation and it develops when the inflammatory response becomes overactive and its power to oppose bad bacteria is hindered. Chronic inflammation has not been associated solely with cancer, but with other serious health problems like arthritis, diabetes, and cardiovascular illness.

Tabung claims that their more-than-two-decade research found that foods promoting chronic inflammation include red, processed, and organ meat, sugar-rich drinks, and refined grains; the risk of inflammation increases if one’s diet does not include coffee, tea, and green leafy and dark yellow veggies, he further explains. The researchers came to this conclusion by classifying the diets of participants with the help of the EDIP continuum on a range from ‘very pro-inflammatory’ to ‘very anti-inflammatory’.

Nevertheless, the researchers emphasize that the collected data is prone to prejudice due to the self-reporting factor and due to the observational nature of the research, there is no explanation of the relationship between cause and effect.

The Most Common Symptoms of Colon Cancer

  • Bleeding from the rectum or blood in the stool
  • Discomfort in the abdominal area manifested by frequent gases, ache, and cramps
  • Changes in bowel movements like constipation or diarrhea or changes in stool consistency
  • Tiredness and weakness
  • Weight loss without any effort to do so
  • A feeling that your bowel does not empty entirely

Other Contributing Factors to Colon Cancer

Besides the above-mentioned promising breakthrough in the research on colon cancer, doctors do not know much about the precise cause of this cancer. Nonetheless, they do know that it develops when the healthy cells in the colon start creating errors in the DNA. Namely, healthy cells are known to grow and split properly so that our body can function optimally, but, when the DNA of a cell is damaged and comes to be cancerous, the cells continue dividing although new ones are not needed; consequently, their accumulation forms a tumor.

Inherited mutations in the genes can contribute to a higher chance of colon cancer, but this is only in a small percentage of patients. To illustrate, people with HNPCC or Lynch syndrome have a higher chance of colon and other types of cancer and they will usually develop it before their 50s. Then, there is FAP or a rare disorder which triggers the development of thousands of polyps in the colon and rectum lining. When untreated, there is an elevated risk of colon cancer before the age of 40.

Additional Risk Factors

  • African-American race
  • Older age (+50)
  • Personal history of polyps or colon cancer
  • Sedentary lifestyle and lack of physical activity
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Diet rich in fat and low on fiber
  • Family history of colon cancer

Prevention of Colon Cancer with Anti-Inflammatory Diet

Opt for the following foods:

  • Vegetables and fruits
  • Whole grains like brown rice and oatmeal
  • Beans
  • Nuts
  • Fish like tuna, sardines, and salmon
  • Spices and herbs like turmeric and garlic

Treatment Options after Colon Cancer Diagnosis

The treatment methods that the doctor chooses are usually conditioned by the stage of the cancer. The three most common options are surgery, chemo, and radiation, as well as targeted drug therapy and immunotherapy. Without doubt, regular colon cancer screen remains as the most potent weapons for treatment. This process includes the search for polyps in people who experience no symptoms of the disease and their elimination as it takes around 10 to 15 years for them to become cancerous. The screening is performed with a scope inserted into the rectum or with X-ray.

2018-11-14T16:12:03+00:00