Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Does diet really help ot prevent colon cancer?

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1.0 Introduction

Cancer affects our cells, the body’s basic unit of life. To understand cancer, it is helpful to know what happens when normal cells become cancerous.

1.1 Definition of colon

The colon is a part of the digestive system. It is actually a muscular tube that has an average length of 1.8m and its function is to absorb excess nutrients and water from food material and blocks the material passing through the digestive tract. It also store waste product known as stool, which is converted by bacteria. It is divided into 4 sections ascending colon, transverse colon, descending colon and sigmoid colon. The ascending colon is on the right side of the abdomen extended upward from the cesium. The transverse colon encompasses the left side of the upper abdomen. In the area slightly below the transverse colon and towards pelvis is the descending colon. The last section of colon, the sigmoid colon as connected to the rectum. The inner lining of the colon is slick, which makes it a haven for all kinds of infectious growth. (What Are Colon and Rectal Cancers? , 00 April 1)

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1. Definition of polyps

Among these malignant growths are polyps. These polyps are usually shaped like dome tipped button or mushrooms, and their size may vary from a tiny seed to larger than a plum. One of the examples of polyps is the adenomas polyp. Polyps if left unchecks, can develop into a cancerous stage after a long period, which is normally ten years. Which in turn, progresses into colon cancer. These polyps normally grow in the inner lining of the colon. (Prevention of Colon Polyps and Cancer, 00)

1. Symptoms

Early symptom and indications show major changes in the bowel habits. The patients might experiences illness such as diarrhea, unexplained anemia, abdominal discomfort, tiredness and sudden weight loss. (What is Colorectal Cancer? , 00, April 1). There’s also loss of hemoglobin in blood, where it drop to 6g from 15g. These might be the factor that is causing blood in the stools. (Lopez.F, 00, May 1)

1.4 Risk factors

Among the risk factor that should be taken into consideration when estimating the risk of colon cancer are age, gender, race, and genetic factor, family health history. According to research, 0% of colon cancer occurs in people more than 50 years of age. Men seem to be more likely to develop colon cancer the women. African-American seem to have higher risk of developing colon cancer. People who have personal or family history of colon cancer are known to be at a higher risk in developing colon cancer. People who overweight seem to be more prone to colon cancer. Other than that, unhealthy habits such as smoking and excessive assumption of alcohol increase the risk. (What is Colorectal Cancer? , 00, April 1) Many people find ways to prevent colon cancer through their daily habit, their diet. But can diet really help to prevent colon and colorectal cancer?

.0 Nutrients in our daily diet

There are many nutrients that our body need. Having know the benefits of the nutrients to our body helps in promoting healthy diet.

.1 Fiber

There are many nutrients in the food that will lower the colon cancer risk. For example, fiber is an important nutrient in the normal maintenance of the gastrointestinal tract, where carcinogenic substances are likely to be present in the colon. (Wakat.D, 00, April 1). Grains, legumes (lentils, beans, and peas), vegetables and fruits contain the most fiber in foods. These fibers which do not dissolve in water are the insoluble fiber. Insoluble fiber in the other hand, speeds up bowel elimination process by rapid movement of waste through the intestine when fiber is present, increasing the bowel function and reduces or absorbs bacterial and cancer causing toxins. Only insoluble fibers provide protection against colon cancer. (Dalzell.D, 00). The largest study ever conducted, in 10 European countries where 50,000 people initially found 5% reduction in colorectal cancer rate in those eating 5g of fiber diets daily than those eating less than 15g. By further analysis, those who double their fiber intake could reduce risk by 40% and the protective effect on the left side of the colon, where most cancer originated was the greatest. (Kirchheimer.S, 00, May 1). The top 0% who had the most fiber intake shows the biggest reduction. In the study, grains, cereals and fruits, was associated with lower risk of colon polyps as the intakes of these dietary fiber increases. (Reuters, 00, May ) A diet with fiber helps in preventing colon cancer. Therefore, the intake of insoluble fiber diet should be increased. Fiber is known to prevent colorectal cancer and this possibility should not be closed. (Lopez.F, 00, May 1).

. Fats

In most diets, meat seems to outweigh vegetables, leading into excess fats and increase in colon cancer risk. The rate of colon cancer is high in a person who takes red meat regularly. Red meats and processed meats provide the most fats and calories. Excessive calories will be turn into fats in the body. Saturated fats are easily oxidized, increasing free radicals formations, destroying the body’s cell chromosomes. (Fox.M, 00, May 16). Red meat also increases faecal ammonia concentration which greatly increases risk of developing tumor. (Bingham S.A. 000) Therefore, every amount of red meat in a diet is a risk factor. Other than that, cooked meat contains substances called heterocyclic amides which can cause cancer. (Lopez.F, 00, May 1) Red meat had negative impact on the prevention of colon cancer but still need to be taken as a potential energy source to the body.

. Vitamin D & Calcium

Vitamin D and calcium not only contribute to healthy bone but also lower colon cancer risk. Patients with colon cancer have high concentration of lithocholic acid. But laboratory animals given vitamin D then lithocholic acid do not get colon cancer. Vitamin D has the ability to absorb calcium. The aforesaid nutrients reduce the risk by slowing down epithelial cell growth, a process that can lead to cancer. It also suppresses the occurrence of polyps but have no effect on size and growth. . (Fox.M, 00, May 16). 7% patients that are on a low fat-diet and taking calcium show noticeable reduction in adenomas. In contrast, patient who did not take calcium only shows 6% in reduction. Dairy products such as milk and cheese are reliable source of vitamin and calcium. (Osterweil.N, 001). Milk and cheese have a good balance of nutrient. Therefore, this is a healthy diet and able to prevent colon cancer.

.4 Vitamin A & Beta Carotene

Vitamin A helps to protect against colon cancer. Beta carotene is also known as pro-vitamin A, are water soluble precursors which are made into Vitamin A by the body. Vitamin A can be found in animal and fish liver, eggs, milk and butter while beta carotene can be found in carrots, broccoli, spinach, cabbage, orange and yellow fruits. The aforementioned are non-toxic and constitute an extreme potent source of antioxidant activity and as immune modulators. (Vitamin A/Beta-Carotene Role in Cancer Prevention and Treatment, 00, May 17). A high vitamin A serum helps to shield the pathogenesis of colorectal adenomas. (Payne.J, 001, February ). Besides good for the eye, food which contains these nutrients can help to prevent colon cancer from spreading.

.5 Vitamin E

Vitamin E is commonly found in vegetable oils, margarine, wheat germ, most nuts and green leafy vegetables. (Vitamin E May Help Protect Against Colon Cancer, 17, November 5). This increases the effectiveness of five-flourouracil (5FU), a leading and most effective chemotherapy drug against colorectal cancer. Without vitamin E, the drug 5FU only have 0% respond rate. Within weeks of treatment with 5FU in addition of vitamin E, the treatment leads to cessation of tumor growth or complete tumor regression. The other benefits of this vitamin are its antioxidant properties and also the key to activate a gene called P1 in cancer cells. This gene is a powerful cell cycle inhibitor that can halt cancer cell growth. (Vitamin E May Enhance Effectiveness of Colorectal Cancer Drug, 17, November 0). Vitamin E is vital as these vitamin is used to stimulate cancer fighting cells and drugs.

.6 Folic acid/Vitamin B

Folic acid is known as vitamin B and also a compound of folates that can be found in many green vegetables. It is required to help the body to convert hemocysyeine to methionine. Then, methionine will convert to S-adenosymethionine, which essential to form DNA that makes up genetic blueprints. The lack of the aforesaid causes an inability of proper DNA production which will lead to genetic error with resulting mutation and providing foundation for cancerous changes. Other than that folates can repair DNA. (Meschino.J, 00, May 17)

.7 Selenium

Selenium is one of the strongest antioxidants which reduce the colon cancer risk. This nutrient works effectively against high fat and low fiber diet. According to Journal of the American Medical Association, selenium reduces colon cancer risk by 58%. Most fruits, grains and vegetables have high amount of selenium. Garlic, turnips and orange are the example if these food. Being the essential trace mineral to health, selenium offers protection from cancer cell damage. Furthermore, selenium activates the immune system to eliminate cancerous cells by increasing the activity and the number of white blood cells. Apart from that, it is also an essential component of glutathione peroxides, an anticancer agent. Glutathione peroxide protects human cell from cancer cells, viruses, bacteria, chemical and toxins which produces free radical. The existence of other antioxidant vitamins enhances the selenium’s cancer-protective mechanism. Such of these vitamins are vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin E. Low levels of selenium in blood augment the colon cancer risk. (Darvish.N.K, 00, May 1)

.8 Phytochemical carotenoids

Phytochemical is a plant chemicals which have cancer fighting effects. These fruits and vegetables containing phytochemicals can be identified by it’s colour of dark green, red, yellow-orange or blue. Carotenoids are coloured pigments in some animal tissues and in many fruits and vegetable. This pigment is red, yellow and orange in colour. One of the examples of carotenoids is lutien which may protect against colon cancer among the general population but shows no effect on population that has family history of cancer. Lutien is commonly found in spinach, broccoli, lettuce, tomatoes, oranges, carrots, celery and greens. Another example is lycopene which have strong cancer protective properties. Lycopene is found in tomatoes, other red fruits and vegetables. Besides carotenoids, isothiocyanates and indoles are types of phytochemical which yield ,-diindolomethane (DIM) when digested .DIM stop malignant cells from dividing and multiplying, and affects the protein levels that affects tumor cells. Isothiocyanates and indoles can be found in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts, cauliflower and turnips. Organosulfurs are part of the allium family of phytochemicals which have benefits on the immune system. However, supplements do not appear to be protective. (What is the Role of Diet in Colon and Rectal Cancers? , 001)

.0 Non preventive result of well known healthy diet

Many researches have come up with unexpected results. Some recent research shows well known nutrients that believe to prevent colon cancer do not have the preventive elements. Many concluded that some healthy diet intakes do not prevent colon cancer when The New England Journal of Medicine (000) posted their recent statistic.

Fiber Doesn’t Prevent Colon Cancer

Recent study has found that fiber might not prevent colon cancer. Ironically, a new study shows that one type of supplement might be bad for the colon. According the latest study in The Lancet Medical Journal, Polyps were slightly more likely to occur in those taking certain fiber supplement. Another study of 55 Europeans who previously had polyps in the bowel had % of tumor reoccurrence in that three years compared to 0% of those given fake granules. Many research in favor to the negative side. The possibility of a protective role is not likely and may not be related to the role fiber in general play in the bowel cancer. (Study Fiber Doesn’t Prevent Cancer, 000).

Fruits and Vegetable Doesn’t Prevent Colon Cancer

From the largest nutrition study suggested that diets rich in fruits and vegetable does not protect against colon cancer. As reported in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, a study of 10 to 16 years participant who ate most fruits and veggies had the same risk than those who ate least. This is surprisingly as the colorectal cancer is considered to be most affected by diet. Thus, further study were carried out with 0,000 women and 47,000 men of various age but resulted in the same conclusion. (Boyles.S, 000, October 1)


Colon cancer has many risk factors but it is up to us to prevent it and the best way to prevent it is through our daily diet where it is the most general, cost effective, the least side effect method. There are some research which in turn negates the ancient believes and the theoretical proven studies which supports the benefits of those healthy diets. This shows that nothing is 100% sure and 100% proven. Besides, there’s also other risk factor, place of study and the participants’ lifestyle we must take account as they are varied from time to time. Therefore, to lower the cancer risk, we must take our diet all rounded to fulfill our body’s need. We also must be moderate and not to take excess in any diets. This is to prevent from over taking that might lead to the side effects of the associated nutrients.

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