Monday, September 03, 2007
You Can Control Your Risk of Colon Cancer – Here’s How
The new study published in Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) 8/15/07, looked at patients with Stage III colon cancer treated with chemotherapy. They found that those eating a more “Western pattern diet” experienced a tripling in risk of recurrence or death in contrast to those following a more “prudent diet.”
The “Western pattern diet” is characterized in the study as higher intakes of red and processed meats, sweets and desserts, French fries, and refined grains. Whereas the “prudent diet” is characterized as higher in fruits and vegetables, poultry and fish, low-fat dairy products, legumes and whole grains.
This is not rocket science but basic intelligent nutrition advice for anyone interesting in enhancing health and vitality and lower their risk of all chronic disease. But it may be worthwhile to look further into the evidence and consider it in the context of previous studies on diet and colon cancer. There are at least four important themes that you can learn from:
1. It’s not just desserts and white bread: It is a known fact that high levels of insulin is associated with enhanced tumor growth. High levels of insulin and insulin resistance is associated not just with intake of sugars and refined grains but with other factors such as when you eat, how you balance carbohydrates with protein and healthy fat in each meal, and how much you exercise.
2. It’s not just French fries: Avoiding “unhealthy fats” and including a moderate amount of “healthy fat” is essential for controlling systemic inflammation, a marker of cancers and all chronic disease. Most people think all they need to do is select reduced fat or nonfat products. A most important consideration often overlooked is processed vegetable oils (any oil that is not expeller-pressed or cold pressed, partially hydrogenated fats). These are found not just in fried foods but in many products that most people consider basically healthy, including salad dressings and marinades, peanut butters, spreads, baked goods, crackers and breads, many restaurant foods.
3. Don’t forget Vitamin D: Less than optimal vitamin D levels are associated with a host of chronic health issues, including colon cancer. A simple blood test and subsequent supplementation with a vitamin D capsule can eliminate this risk factor.
4. It’s more than just fruit: We all know that increasing our intake of fruits and vegetables lowers cancer risk because it increases your intake of vitamins, minerals, and powerful plant compounds called antioxidants. Most people end up focusing on fruits and barely get in a serving of vegetables each day. Focusing on vegetables first, including dark green leafies and cruciferous, is most important. My advice is to aim for at least 6 servings a day. I admit this requires planning, but once you get in the habit of doing it, it is not so difficult. And, it’s one of the best protective measure you can take for yourself.