A while ago a new report released by leading social demographer Bernard Salt, who said by 2026, 4.6 million baby boomers and 4 million Gen Xers “ will be subjected to a bowel cancer lottery” purely because of their age. (Source. http://www.smh.com.au/national/millions-of-australians-at-risk-of-bowel-cancer-20160320-gnmlzr.html#ixzz43V3GG58M ).
This is concerning for a preventable cancer. How then do we reduce the risk for ourselves and our families.
To start with there is some evidence that poor diet and nutrition, the amount of alcohol you drink and a sedentary lifestyle increase your relative risk of bowel cancer. Diabetes and obesity really elevate the risk of bowel cancer and these modern chronic diseases are largely attributed to the same lifestyle choices associated with bowel (colorectal) cancer.
There is also one other major factor , chronic stress. Chronic stress is often associated with development of chronic disease and cancer. The stress-response involves many changes in the body as it is prepared to survive a threat. When this happens repeatedly everyday the normal functions of the body become disrupted. Repeated chronic stress causes unrelenting inflammation, which damages tissue in our blood vessels and inside of our gastrointestinal tract. This inflammation is referred to as mucosal inflammation and this causes a great deal of problems. Mucosal inflammation damages the lining of your intestines (mucosa) and creates a hostile environment for healthy bacteria, which is not good because when your healthy bacteria population dwindle the unhealthy ones often move in.
Several studies implicate unhealthy bacteria and lack of healthy bacteria as a factor in the development of colon cancer. Such Finally stress is not only something that happens externally and you react to it. Your gut can get very distressed when you swallow something that it hadn’t evolved to use and to protect itself from toxic substances the gut immune function starts the inflammation process. The inflammation makes cells vulnerable to DNA damage and it is also an environment where a cancer tumour thrives.
There is no proven silver bullet to avoid colorectal cancer , but we can change many habits to reduce mucosal inflammation and create an gut environment that is hostile to bad bacteria. Both of these changes will reduce our risk of colorectal cancer.
Here’s a brief list of lifestyle changes that would help reduce your risk of mucosal inflammation and colon cancer: –
- Fermented foods
- Look at your comfort eating? Are you? Why?
- Don’t binge drink
- Don’t eat processed foods
- Eat fibre
- Eat some fruit and vegetables everyday or supplement with super food drinks
- Cook whole foods as much as possible
- Use eco-friendly toxic chemical free cleaning and household products
- Eat less processed meats and eat less meat
- Get a comprehensive blood test every year including inflammatory markers CRP, ESR and all essential vitamins and minerals, fasting glucose, insulin, blood fats and anything else relevant to your health. Then address any nutritional deficiencies and other concerns.
- Balance your essential fats intake (as Omega 3,6,9)
- Over 50 and family history of bowel cancer? Consult your doctor for whether you may benefit from test for bowel cancer.
- Suffering from chronic constipation/diarrhoea/ or an IBD? Consult a integrative medicine practitioner for help.
And work on being less distressed. Bring down those stress levels
- Find a way to slow down, relax and take time out. Sitting in front of the television is not relaxation, but listening to meditation music with absolutely no distractions is.
- Sweat! – do intensive exercise 3-5 times a week
- Move! – get up from your office chair and move around for 5 minutes every hour
This is a brief and very incomplete explanation of cancer , which is incredibly complex. Never the less it is indisputable that most cancers are not a genetic destiny they are often a result of how we have lived our lives and perhaps some bad luck.
Some sources for this article
Gut microbiota and colorectal cancer – (PMID:27350830 PMCID:PMC4917993)
Schwabe RF, Jobin C. The microbiome and cancer. Nat Rev Cancer. 2013;13(11):800–12. doi: 10.1038/nrc3610.
A human colonic commensal promotes colon tumorigenesis via activation of T helper type 17 T cell responses – doi:10.1038/nm.2015
Chronic inflammation, colorectal cancer and gene polymorphisms.
Alcohol and Cancer Incidence – http://epic.iarc.fr/highlights/alcoholcancerincidence.php
Vitamin D and Colorectal Cancer – http://epic.iarc.fr/highlights/vitamindcolorectal.php