Dietary and Lifestyle Changes to Help Prevent Colorectal Cancer - Rejuvenation Therapeutics

Dietary and Lifestyle Changes to Help Prevent Colorectal Cancer

Dietary and Lifestyle Changes to Help Prevent Colorectal Cancer

Colon cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the final part of the digestive tract—the large intestine (also known as the colon). Colon cancer is sometimes called colorectal cancer—a term that combines colon cancer and rectal cancer, which begins in the rectum.1

Cancer begins when healthy cells develop changes (mutations) in their DNA. DNA contains a set of instructions that tell a cell what to do. Healthy cells divide and grow in an orderly way to maintain normal body functioning. When a cell's DNA is damaged and it becomes cancerous, cells divide beyond control, even when new cells are not needed. The accumulated cells form a tumor. Cancer cells grow, invade, and destroy surrounding normal tissues, and can also travel to other parts of the body (metastasis).1

If you’ve experienced persistent changes in your bowel habits, including diarrhea, constipation, a change in the consistency of your stool, rectal bleeding or blood in your stool, persistent abdominal discomfort, a feeling that your bowel doesn't empty completely, or have experienced unexplained weight loss, you should see a colorectal specialist for an evaluation.2

Risk factors of developing colorectal cancer

Several factors influence the onset of colorectal cancer, such as older age, being an African-American, personal history of colorectal cancer or adenomatous polyps, inflammatory intestinal conditions, inherited syndromes that increase colon cancer risk, family history of colon cancer, low-fiber and/or high-fat diet, sedentary lifestyle, diabetes, obesity, smoking, heavy use of alcohol, or cancer radiation therapy. So, if a person is pre-exposed to these factors, they should be more careful and exert extra effort to prevent the development of colorectal cancer.3,5

Prevention is always better than treatment

Once carcinogenic cells have started to grow inside the body, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, targeted therapy, hormone therapy, stem cell therapy, surgery, and precision medicine are the most common treatment options6, however these treatments have many negative side effects. They can incur heavy expenses and be very painful. procedures. Thus, a watchful attitude towards prevention of colorectal cancer is the best course of action.

Valuable preventive measures to keep the body free from colorectal cancer:

  • Regular screening, especially over the age of 50, and in cases where there is a history of family cancer, even sooner. These measures are one of the most powerful ways to prevent colorectal cancer. In some cases, genetic counseling may be of benefit to review the family medical history7,8.
  • The leading preventive trios “Body weight, physical activity, and diet”
    • Weight: In both men and women (two-fold in premenopausal women)9, being overweight increases the risk of colorectal cancer, but the connection is stronger in men10. Maintaining a healthy weight will not only reduce metabolic stress, chronic low‐grade inflammation in colon11, and dysregulation of endogenous hormones but can also help to lower the risk of colon cancer12.
      Regular periods of sustained moderate physical exercise increase the body’s oxygen uptake, metabolic efficiency and capacity13, insulin sensitivity14, as well as reduce blood pressure15, and intestinal transit time16. A lack of physical activity can contribute to obesity which notably increases circulating estrogens, decreases insulin sensitivity, and is believed to heighten cancer risk17.
    • Physical activity: An idle body increases the risk of incurring illness. An increased level of activity lowers the risk of colorectal cancer and polyps18. To promote and maintain a good physical condition, moderate-intensity aerobic (endurance) physical activity is suggested to be performed by healthy adults aged 18 to 65 years for a minimum duration of 30 minutes on most days each week or vigorous-intensity aerobic exercises for a minimum of 20 minutes three days a week, or a combination of both (i.e., walking briskly for 30 minutes twice a week and jogging for 20 minutes on two other days). Additionally, for muscular strength and endurance, weight training should be performed a minimum of twice a week19. Vigorous activity includes power yoga, cardio, aerobics, cycling, weight training, swimming, competitive sports and games; moderate activity includes brisk walking, gardening, and dancing20.
    • Nutrition: Daily meals comprised of plentiful quantities of fresh and cooked vegetables and fruits; reasonable amounts of whole grains and cereals; sparing amounts of fats and oils; and very low quantities of red and processed meats reflects healthy dietary behaviors that can help to prevent colorectal cancer21. Many studies have shown the beneficial effects of dietary fiber. Studies have also shown the risks associated with consuming red meat (beef, pork, and lamb) or processed meat (such as hot dogs, sausage, and lunch meats) result in a higher risk of contracting colorectal cancer22. Limiting the consumption of red and processed meats and encouraging consumption of fibrous vegetables and fruits may dilute fecal content, increase fecal bulk, and reduce transit time, which helps to lower risk23. It is believed that changes in food habits may reduce the chance of contracting cancer by up to 70%24.

      Not only healthy food choices, but also a blend of proper nutrients is highly recommended to avoid colorectal cancer. Nutrients such as folic acid, or folate, may help reduce the risk of colorectal cancer25.

      Studies have suggested that vitamin D, which is available from sun exposure, foods, and dietary supplements, may lower colorectal cancer risk. Vitamin D with calcium may reduce colorectal cancer risk, as vitamin D aids in the body’s absorption of calcium26. But please be mindful that excess sun exposure can cause skin cancer and you should only spend a moderate amount of time exposed to sunlight/UV rays.

      Poor dietary calcium intake is associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer in some studies, and improved calcium intake may reduce the risk of colorectal cancer27. In a limited number of studies, a possible link between high magnesium intake and reduced colorectal cancer risk, especially among women, has been demonstrated28.
  • Limit alcohol consumption
    Several studies have established a link between high alcohol intake and increased risk of colorectal cancer, especially among men. Alcohol functions as a solvent, enhancing penetration of carcinogenic molecules into mucosal cells29. Avoiding intoxication, or if you choose to consume alcohol, limiting your intake (no more than one drink a day for women and two for men) may help reduce the risk of colorectal cancer30,31.
  • Make life a “smoking-free” zone!
    Long-term smoking is linked to not only an increased risk of colorectal cancer, but also to many other cancers and a number of health problems. Carcinogens present in tobacco increase the growth of adenomatous polyps in the colon and rectum32. Quitting smoking may help to minimize the risk of colorectal cancer30.
  • Common health care practices for preventing colorectal cancer
    • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): Many studies have shown that regular use of aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) and naproxen (Aleve), is associated with a lower risk of developing colorectal cancer and polyps. Having said that, aspirin and other NSAIDs can also have serious side effects, such as bleeding from stomach irritation or stomach ulcers, which perhaps outweigh the benefits of such medicines33.
    • Hormone replacement therapy for women: Therapy with estrogen and progesterone not only aids post-menopausal conditions but also reduces the risk of developing colorectal cancer34,35. Again, as estrogen and progesterone therapy may increase the risk of heart disease, blood clots, and breast and lung cancers, you should consult a healthcare professional before starting any new medication regimen38-38.

The mission is not to tell, but to save!
On the journey of knowing theoretically preventive strategies to the implementation of those preventive strategies, you should take into account many factors associated with the development of the disease. The two foremost steps in cancer prevention are to know one’s family history of cancer and the risk factors one is exposed to. Then, by applying existing knowledge of cancer prevention, cases of colorectal cancer can be prevented. Appropriate dietary modifications, optimum physical activity, and maintaining a healthy weight, in combination with early screening and early therapeutic intervention may substantially reduce the morbidity and mortality associated with colorectal cancer.


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