Nutrition has been estimated to have a particularly large effect on the risk of colon cancer compared to many other types of cancer. Everything we eat and drink passes through the intestines, says oncologist Leena Vimenen.
It is estimated that at least one-fifth of cancers are related to nutrition in some way.
– Estimates of the effect of various lifestyle factors vary, but in Western countries, about 10 percent of all cancers are thought to be caused by being overweight, ie the background is a high-calorie diet and little exercise. Maybe 5 percent is related to a certain feature of the diet and 5 percent is related to alcohol, says Lena Viemann, M.D., an oncology specialist at Hus Cancer Center.
Wheemann says that being overweight is one of the most important of the risk factors, as it is believed to increase cancer risk in several different ways. Being overweight, for example, increases harmful low-grade inflammation in the body, and large amounts of adipose tissue increase insulin secretion.
Insulin can act as a growth factor in cells and increase their division, which can increase the risk of cancer.
Diet specifically affects colon cancer risk
Diet has been estimated to have a particularly large effect on colon cancer risk compared to many other types of cancer.
– The logic here is clear: everything we eat or drink passes through the intestine. Wheemann says that dietary carcinogens or other cancer-stimulating factors are in direct contact with the intestinal mucosa.
The risk of developing colon cancer is increased by:
■ Processed meat products like bacon and sausage
■ red meat
■ low fiber intake
■ low calcium intake
The clearest evidence pertains to processed meats.
To avoid excess weight, which increases the risk of cancer, you should reduce everything in your diet that contains a lot of sugar and fat. Of the individual components of the diet, highly processed meat products appear to increase the risk of colon cancer the most.
The clearest evidence of cancer risk is linked to processed meat. Red meat itself increases the risk of colon cancer.
According to Wehmanen, at least one mechanism by which meat increases the risk of disease is the preparation of meat products at high temperatures, which creates carcinogenic, ie cancer-causing, compounds.
In addition, heme iron, ie iron of animal origin, has been linked to intestinal cancer, which somehow increases the risk of intestinal cell damage.
Alcohol also increases the risk of colon cancer. One possible reason for this is the ethanol contained in alcohol, which is converted to acetaldehyde in the body. According to the IARC classification of the International Agency for Research on Cancer, both ethanol and acetaldehyde are carcinogenic substances.
Make these a priority in your diet
It is beneficial to give preference to whole grain products, legumes and vegetables, berries and fruits in the diet.
Vahanman clarifies that good nutrients must be obtained exclusively from food — dietary supplements are not recommended for cancer prevention.
The beneficial effects are due to the dietary fiber found in vegetables and whole grain products.
Fiber reduces the risk of colon cancer, because fiber-rich food makes the intestine work. When the transit time of food in the intestine is short, cancer-causing carcinogens are diluted and cannot affect the intestinal mucosa as long and strongly.
Under the influence of intestinal bacteria, fiber also produces short-chain fatty acids, which may have cancer-preventive effects.
Also, according to studies, whole grain products lower insulin levels, which is something that lowers the risk of cancer.
There are two types of evidence for dairy products.
Dairy products have also been found to be associated with a lower risk of colon cancer.
– It is not yet known whether it is the milk in particular or the calcium contained in it, says Vehemenen.
Also, he reminds that there are two types of evidence for dairy products in terms of cancer.
With regard to colon cancer, dairy products seem to have some protective effect, but on the other hand, in some studies, they also seem to be associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer.
Recognize the Symptoms of Bowel Cancer
■ In the early stages, bowel cancer is almost asymptomatic.
■ Changes in bowel function, new or changing diarrhea or constipation are typical symptoms. A common symptom is also a feeling that the bowel is not emptying properly, or that there is a bowel obstruction.
■ The surface of the tumor is rough and hence bleeds easily. As a result of bleeding, the stool may be darker or may contain visible blood.
If the bleeding continues for a long time, the patient becomes anemic. Its symptoms include, for example, shortness of breath, pallor and dizziness.
■ Common symptoms such as weight loss, abdominal pain and loss of appetite also appear from time to time.
Source: Health Library
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