CLEVELAND – Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States.
Now, a recent study looks at whether what we eat can impact our risk for developing colon cancer by promoting inflammation in the colon.
The study examined data from 121,050 men and women who were followed for a 26-year period.
Researchers found that both men and women who ate foods that were likely to cause inflammation, such as red meat, processed meat, refined grains and soda were more likely to develop colon cancer than those who ate a low inflammation diet.
Those who consumed low inflammation diets ate more leafy green vegetables and dark yellow vegetables such as carrots, squash and sweet potatoes.
James Church, M.D., of Cleveland Clinic, did not take part in the study, but said the results show that a diet high in inflammation-causing foods could be a factor, albeit a small one.
“Most of us can’t do much about our risk of colon cancer except to get colonoscopies, that’s the most important thing,” he said. “And although primary prevention has a less important role, it’s still important to eat right.”
Dr. Church said most colon cancer-causing polyps are a result of genetic changes that occur randomly in the cells lining the colon. And while there is not much we can do to prevent these random genetic events, the good news is that colon cancer can be stopped by removing the troublesome polyps.
“Colorectal cancer is the one solid organ cancer we can prevent because we know every cancer starts off in a benign polyp,” said Dr. Church. “So all we have to do is find that polyp and take it off.”
Dr. Church said the best thing people can do to minimize their colon cancer risk is to have regular colonoscopies starting at age 50.