There are many precautions you can take in order to reduce your risk for colon cancer, and a new study published by JAMA Oncology Journal found that your diet might be even more important than previously thought. Obesity and inflammation are both known risk factors of colon cancer, but it seems that simply eating the wrong foods might be directly contributing to instances of colon cancer as well. The long term study analyzed eating habits and found that certain diets contributed to inflammation, thus contributing to instances of colon cancer.
Inflammation is actually a necessary function of your body and aids in healing wounds or injuries. Not all forms of inflammation are created equal, though. There aretwo categories of inflammation, acute or chronic. Acute inflammation is when your body triggers your immune system to heal an infected or injured part of your body. Chronic inflammation is a similar process, but the body sends a response to what it views as an injury or threat, but actually doesn’t need the additional blood cells. This creates more of a long term condition and is related to autoimmune disorders, allergies, asthma, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and Crohn’s disease.
The JAMA Oncology Journal took place over the course of 26 years, with regular check-ins with the over 120,000 participants. They kept track of their diets and were given a score based on 18 different food groups. The participants were also grouped by alcohol intake and body weight, which gave the researchers the ability to find associations within those categories. Throughout the 26 years, 2,699 of the study participants developed colon cancer. Those participants who were eating inflammatory foods were shown to be 37 percent more likely to develop colon cancer and 70 percent more likely to develop rectal cancer than their counterparts who were eating a diet of lower inflammation foods. Foods considered as having high inflammatory markers included red meat, refined grains, and sugary beverages. The lower inflammatory foods included whole grains, green leafy veggies, and even coffee.
The death rates from colon cancer have been on the decline over the past two decades, but there are still going to be an estimated 50,000 deaths from the disease in 2018, according to the American Cancer Society. However, there are many tools at your disposal which can help you either lower your risk of getting colon cancer, or catch it in its early stage which will increase your treatment options. Risk factors for the disease include age, with most patients being over age 50. You are also more prone to it if you’re overweight, lead a sedentary lifestyle, have a personal or family history of cancer, eat a poor diet, or have certain conditions like diabetes or IBD. While it doesn’t always present with symptoms, people with colon cancer may experience a change in bowel habits, rectal bleeding, pain and cramping in the abdomen, weakness and fatigue, unexplained weight loss, and the feeling that your bowel isn’t being emptied after using the restroom. The most important tool you should take advantage of is a regular colonoscopy. Doctors recommend those of average to low risk begin receiving them at age 50. If you fall into a higher risk category or are having concerning symptoms, our doctors may recommend you have the exam earlier. Make an appointment with Carolina Digestive Health Associates today to discuss your options and to schedule a colonoscopy today.