Australian researchers have come upon some interesting findings while assessing colon cancer risk. After examining the eating patterns of just under 1000 patients suffering with colorectal cancer, along with another 1,021 control subjects without the disease, they found that eating certain fruits and veggies was associated with a lower risk of cancer for both the upper and lower colon.
While fruits and veggies have been researched extensively in terms of colon cancer risk, no work has been done in terms of food intake and the site of the cancer within the colon. If these findings are repeated in larger studies, this might spur recommendations for a higher consumption of veggies as a way to reduce the cancer risk in the lower part of the colon.
Eating the brassica veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale and turnips appears to bring down the risk for cancer forming in the upper area of the colon.
Both fruit and veggie intake (even total veggie take on its own) cut the risk of cancers of the lower colon.
Eating more apples, as well as dark, yellow veggies was also associated with a significantly smaller chance of colon cancer developing in the lower regions.
Unexpectedly, higher consumption of fruit juice was tied to a higher risk of rectal cancer.
So where does this leave you if you're at risk, or know someone who is?
Work to avoid as many of the risk factors for this form (and all forms) of cancer as you can. Make the changes to your diet (low fat, high fiber) that bring your body more of the good, natural, healthy foods and limit (or eliminate) the calorie and saturated fat laden trees.
Get up and get active – 30 minutes of moderately intense exercise each day is a good goal to work for. And make other changes in your lifestyle – such as quitting smoking or limiting your alcohol Intake – those will also help cut your chances of getting colon cancer.
Experts know there is no one cause of colon cancer. Nearly all of these cancers start out as benign (non cancerous) polyps. From the time those first unusual cells grow into polyps, experts believe it takes an average of 10 – 15 years for cancer to form. Regular screening finds, and gets rid of, these polyps while they are non-cancerous.
This is why it is vital to get the screenings (usually starting at age 50) that are recommended for you. Colonoscopy is the standard test used to view the whole colon, and therefore the best screening process for cancer in this body system.
By being screened as your doctor recommends, before you have any symptoms, you'll have the best chance of any cancer being found while it is still small, and most treatable.
The American Cancer Society estimates that this type of cancer is a leading cause of cancer related deaths in the US In 2011, it will claim an estimated 49,380 lives. The good news is that the death rate has dropped in the last 15 years, certainly the result of increased colon cancer risk awareness and more of us being screened for this disease.