PUBLISHED BY:

DR. TONI BARK

847.869.7740

Risk Factors for Colorectal Cancer

While the medical community likes to focus on cancer cures, there are those of us who believe in putting our energies into prevention. So many of our chronic illnesses, including many common cancers, can be prevented.

Much of our focus is on cures because big pharma makes it’s profits on selling cures and it’s big pharma that funds studies. That’s not to say there aren’t researchers analyzing data regarding prevention, there are and much of the outcomes are promising and hopeful. But, unlike the tepid outcomes on patented drug treatments which make headlines, the buzz around these outcomes is small as there is no PR machine force feeding the newswire with the information.

It seems I hear about another contemporary diagnosed with colon or rectal cancer on a very regular basis. The disease is becoming an epidemic. Perhaps it’s diagnosed better and earlier than in years past, perhaps it is simply more prevalent. While the death rate from colorectal cancers have been dropping in the last 20 years, it is the second leading cause of cancer related deaths in the US.

What do we know about risk factors and prevention? The most impressive statistic is the one involving daily physical activity. Daily physical activity reduces colorectal cancer risks by 50 %. This is most likely due to a decrease in insulin resistance as all cancers need copious amounts of glucose to propagate. Exercise improves insulin sensitivity and hence improves glucose regulation.

We also know that cooking meats creates carcinogenic compounds that are then exposed to the gastrointestinal tract, compounds such as heterocyclic amines and nitrosamines. Although, the nitrosamines are more involved in stomach cancers.

Vitamin D deficiency has been shown to increase risk of many cancers, one of which is colorectal. Excessive iron levels have been shown to increase the risk for colorectal cancer, mostly in those with an abnormal gene involving iron storage, but those with the same gene with normal to low iron levels do not develop the cancer.

Repeatedly, a diet rich in low glycemic foods consistently are associated with lower risks of all types of cancer including colorectal. Junk food is just bad and dangerous in the longterm. Learn to love nuts and low glycemic dark chocolate as your vice, not only will you reduce your risk of colorectal cancer, you’ll reduce your risk of diabetes, dementia and chronic inflammation.

As usual, a diet low in animal protein, daily exercise and adequate sunshine all contribute to a lower risk of yet another avoidable disease.