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Dietary Approach to Colon Cancer Prevention Essay

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Updated: Apr 7th, 2022

Introduction

Over the past fifty years, there has been a dramatic rise in colorectal cancer cases. Several risk factors have thus far been proposed as being responsible for the dramatic rise in colorectal cancer incidences. They include obesity, adoption of a westernized diet, and lack of physical activity. Based on past studies, colorectal cancer is ranked as the third most common type of cancer (Pericleous, Mandair, and Caplin 2013).

Studies also indicate that nutrition could be responsible for over a third of all cancer deaths. At the same time, dietary factors are believed to be responsible for between 70 and 90 percent of all colorectal cancer cases. What this appears to suggest is that we could dramatically minimize incidences of colorectal cancer through diet optimization.

Dietary approach to colon cancer

A meta-analytical assessment to determine the link between sufficient consumption of folate and reduced risk of colorectal cancer revealed a stronger correlation between reduced colorectal cancer and folate consumption (Sanjoaquin, Allen, Couto, Roddam and Key 828). The study conclusion was that sufficient consumption of folate reduced the risk of colorectal cancer. These research findings appear to support the hypothesis that the presence of folate in the diet is linked to the risk factor for colon cancer. Despite the positive relationship, a separate study conducted to explore the link between colorectal cancer and dietary fiber has shown an inverse relationship between colorectal cancer risk and intake of dietary fiber (Dahm, Keogh and Spencer 2010)

Many case-control studies have demonstrated an association between increased cases of colorectal cancer and increased consumption of red meat (Pericleous et al. 2013). However, other studies have failed to find such an association in their study. For instance, increased consumption of red meat like pork, lamb, or beef was linked to an enhanced risk of colorectal cancer among women and men (Goldbohm, van den Brandt, van Veer, Dorant, Sturmans and Hermus 1994). Moreover, people who consumed red meat more than five times per week were three times more likely to develop colon cancer. Therefore, there is a direct link between the consumption of red meat and colon cancer (Goldbohm et al. 1994).

As the intake of total energy (fat) increases, so does the risk of developing colorectal cancer. This has been documented by several case-control studies that have been carried out to explore the phenomena (Satia-About, Galanko, and Potter 2013). It is important to note that dietary lipids are a rich source of energy and as such, a diet rich in lipids, and more so animal fat, have been shown to increase the risk of developing colorectal cancer (Bandaru 2000). On the other hand, an association between dietary lipids and the development of colon cancer has been discredited by some cohort studies (Sanjoaquin et al. 2005).

Other foods have also been shown to reduce the risk of developing colon cancer, as evidenced by several epidemiological studies. For example, the findings of an epidemiological study showed that individuals who consumed polyunsaturated fish oils in large quantities benefited from reduced rates of colon cancer in comparison with their counterparts who consumed less polyunsaturated fish oils (Kim et al 2010). On account of such epidemiological studies, scientists have since developed a hypothesis to the effect that diets rich in n-3 fatty acids might in fact help to lower the risk of developing colorectal cancer (Corpet and Pierre 2003).

Therefore, there is an association that diets rich in n-3 fatty acids minimize the chances of getting colorectal cancer (Theodoratou and McNeill 2007. However, other studies have failed to find any evidence to support the claim that omega-6 acids do indeed increase the risk of colorectal cancer in their cohort study. Other foods that have been found to lower the risk of developing colorectal cancer include fruits and vegetables, as well as dietary fiber (van Duijnhoven et al. 2009).

Prevention of colon cancer

The first step towards the prevention of colon cancer is to ensure that has been screened starting from the age of 50. People who come from families with a history of colon cancer are at a higher risk of developing the conditions that those who do not have such a history. It would be better if such people are screened sooner. In addition, American Indians and African-Americans also have a higher risk for developing colon cancer in comparison with their white Caucasian counterparts. As such, they should also get screened sooner, possibly at the age of 45.

Another way of preventing the development of colon cancer is to change one’s lifestyle. The first form of change in lifestyle entails dietary modifications. Reduce consumption of foods that have been implicated with an increased risk in the development of colon cancer, such as red meat and dietary fat. It is also important to consume a diet rich in whole grains. Fruits and vegetables are also associated with a reduced risk for colon cancer as they are rich in fiber and antioxidants.

Reducing alcohol consumption would also go a long way towards preventing the development of colon cancer. Although it is still not clear how alcohol contributes to the development of colon cancer, several pathways have thus far been proposed, including the ability of alcohol to promote abnormal DNA methylation, lower folate, and activate carcinogens (Cho, Smith-Warner and Ritz 2004).

Increased physical activity such as 30 minutes of brisk walking on most days of the week would also go a long way towards reducing your risk of developing colon cancer. Numerous studies on colorectal cancer have found out that those adults who increase the duration, frequency, or intensity of physical activity care are more likely to reduce the risk of colon cancer by between 30 and 40 percent in comparison with their counterparts who lead a sedentary lifestyle. The most active individuals were seen to benefit from the greatest risk reduction (Cho et al. 2004).

Physical activity could affect colon cancer development in a number of ways (Kim et al. 2010). In addition, physical activity also helps to reduce the time by which the colon gets exposed to several potential carcinogens. Reducing caloric intake has been shown to reduce the risk of developing colon cancer in animal studies. Researchers contend that just like in animal studies, overnutrition in humans could also act as a potent “carcinogen”. However, this can be overcome by maintaining a positive energy balance through engaging in psychical activity and reducing caloric intake (Zhu, Wu, and Wang 2013).

One can also prevent colon cancer by either taking medication or undergoing surgery. Although these treatments are linked to reduced risk of developing colon cancer, there is insufficient evidence to support such claims especially for individuals characterized by average risk of colon cancer development. People who are at an increased risk of colon cancer such as those who have a family history of colon cancer should however consult their physicians first before taking any medications or undergoing surgery.

Conclusion

The dramatic rise in cases of colon cancer over the past fifty years has largely been attributed to lack of physical activities, obesity, and poor dietary habits. Research findings from numerous case-control studies and meta-analytical assessments reveal that a number of foods are directly related to the development of colon cancer. One of the foods that have been linked to colon cancer is red meat.

However, other studies have failed to find the same link. A high intake of foods rich in lipids has also been linked to colon cancer although this association is not very clear. At the same time, it is also important to note that the consumption of certain foods has also been linked to reduced risk of colon cancer. Some of the foods that help to prevent the development of colon cancer include a diet risk in fruits and vegetables and whole grains. Food rich in polyunsaturated fats such as fish are also linked to a reduced risk of developing colon cancer.

On the other hand, the adoption of a healthy lifestyle such as increased physical activity and dietary modification can also help prevent the development of colon cancer. Besides improving immunity, physical exercises also facilitate hormone metabolism. Reducing the time by which the colon gets exposed to various potential carcinogens. Surgeries and medications can also help to prevent the development of colon cancer.

Works Cited

Bandaru, Reddy. “Nutritional Manipulation and Chemoprevention Novel Approaches to the Prevention of Colon Cancer.” Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev., 9(2000): 239-247. Print.

Cho, Eunyoung, Smith-Warner, Stephanie and Ritz John et al. “Alcohol intake and Colorectal cancer: a pooled analysis of 8 cohort studies.” Ann Intern Med., 140(2004): 603-13. Print.

Corpet, Denis and Pierre, Fabrice. “Point: From Animal Models to Prevention of Colon Cancer. Systematic Review of Chemoprevention in Min Mice and Choice of the Model System.” Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev., 12(2003): 391-400. Print.

Dahm, Christina, Keogh, Ruth and Spencer, Elizabeth et al. “Dietary Fiber and Colorectal Cancer Risk: A Nested Case Control Study Using Food Diaries.” J Nat Cancer Inst.,102(2010): 614–626. Print.

Goldbohm RA, van den Brandt PA, van ‘t Veer P, Dorant E, Sturmans F, and Hermus RJ. A prospective cohort study on the relation between meat consumption and the risk of cancer of the colon. Cancer Research, 5.94(1994):95-104.

Kim, Sangmi, Sandler, Dale and Galanko, Joseph et al. “Intake of polyunsaturated fatty acids and distal large bowel cancer risk in whites and African Americans.” Am J Epidemiol., 171(2010): 969-79. Print.

Pericleous, Marinos, Mandair, Dalvinder and Caplin, Martyn. “Diet and supplements and their impact on colorectal cancer.” J Gastrointest Oncol.,5 (2013): 1-15. Print.

Sanjoaquin, Miguel, Allen, Naomi, Couto, Elisabeth, Roddam, Andrew and Key, Timothy. “Folate intake and colorectal cancer risk: A meta-analytical approach.” Int. J. Cancer., 113(2005): 825–828. Print.

Satia-About a, Jessie, Galanko, Joseph and Potter, John. “Associations of total energy and macronutrients with colon cancer risk in African Americans and Whites: results from the North Carolina colon cancer study.” Am J Epidemiol., 158(2013): 951-62. Print.

Theodoratou, Evropi and McNeill, Geraldine et al. “Dietary fatty acids and colorectal cancer: a case-control study.” Am J Epidemiol., 166(2007):181-95. Print.

Zhu, Yun, Wu, Hao and Wang, Peter et al. “Dietary patterns and colorectal cancer recurrence and survival: a cohort study.” BMJ, 3(2013): 1-11. Print.

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