Steps to Minimize the Risk of Colon Cancer

Steps to Minimize the Risk of Colon Cancer

Colon cancer is one of the most prevalent forms of cancer in Western countries. Numerous scientific studies have established a strong correlation between certain lifestyle choices and an increased probability of developing malignant tumors, especially in the digestive system. Recently, two groundbreaking studies have shed light on specific types of food that could potentially influence the risk of developing colon cancer.

A meta-analysis study published in December identified a potential link between the consumption of cruciferous vegetables and a reduced risk of cancer. This family of vegetables, which includes broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and Chinese cabbage, is known to contain various anti-cancer properties. In the course of this study, which was published in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition, American researchers analyzed data from 89 distinct studies. These studies comprised a total of 45,847 patients diagnosed with cancer affecting the digestive tract. The study subjects were followed up over a period ranging from 3.6 to 26 years.

Results from this study revealed that high consumption of cruciferous vegetables was linked to a 19% reduction in the risk of developing gastrointestinal cancer. The risk of various types of cancer was also found to be significantly lower among individuals who consumed the highest level of cruciferous vegetables. This includes a 30% lower risk of esophageal cancer, 16% lower risk of stomach cancer, 26% lower risk of liver cancer, and 17% lower risk of pancreatic and colon cancer.

Interestingly, the study also found that the lowest risk of gastrointestinal cancer was associated with a daily intake of 75 grams of cruciferous vegetables. Consuming more than this amount did not result in any additional decrease in risk. This finding was consistent among both genders and across different geographical locations. Among the varieties of cruciferous vegetables, cabbage and broccoli were found to be particularly beneficial, leading to a 20% and 19% decrease in risk respectively.

A separate study discovered that regular consumption of legumes could potentially reduce the risk of colon cancer. This research analyzed data from 12 studies conducted in Italy and Switzerland between 1991 and 2009. These studies involved a total of 10,482 participants diagnosed with cancer and an equal number of healthy individuals. It was found that between 30% to 40% of the participants consumed a serving of legumes at least once a week. In this context, a serving of legumes was defined as 100 grams of cooked legumes or 40 grams of dry ones.

According to the study, participants who consumed legumes once a week were 21% less likely to develop colon and rectal cancer in the future compared to those who did not consume legumes at all. Consuming two servings of legumes a week reduced the risk by 32%. On the contrary, a comprehensive study conducted recently in the United Kingdom discovered that consuming white bread could increase the risk of colon cancer.

In the UK study, researchers analyzed data from 118,210 participants from the UK Biobank database. About half of these participants were men who had joined the study between 2006 and 2010. The study aimed at examining the relationship between exposure to 139 food products and the risk of colon cancer. As part of the study, participants were asked to fill out a questionnaire detailing their diet over a 24-hour period, in addition to providing demographic data.

The results of this study indicated that consumption of white bread was associated with a 22% increased risk of colon cancer. On the other hand, consuming dietary fiber, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and the mineral manganese seemed to offer some protection against colon cancer.

Prof. Baruch Brenner, a leading oncologist at Klalit Health Services and a member of the executive committee of the Cancer Society, emphasizes the importance of early detection in the prevention of colon cancer. He explains, “Most colon tumors originate from a benign polyp that may eventually turn malignant. Therefore, if a stool test for occult blood returns a positive result, it is crucial to proceed with a colonoscopy without delay. This can help in detecting and removing benign polyps, thereby preventing the development of colon cancer.”

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