Colorectal cancer (CRC) is, quite simply, cancer of the colon and rectum and is one of the leading causes of cancer mortality. Forty percent of those who develop colorectal cancer will die of the disease.
Most of colon and rectal cancers are believed to arise from transformation of one of three types of colon polyps: adenomatous, villous adenoma, or serrated. However, through regular screening, precancerous polyps can be found to catch it in the earliest stages. While approximately 75% of all cases occur in those with no known predisposing factors, we have identified numerous risk factors that contribute to the chances of developing colorectal cancer. Colorectal Cancer Overview »
Yes, You Can Eat Red Meat (Just Not Every Day)
Most people are concerned about red meat because of the fat and cholesterol and how it can affect their heart. This is important and eating leaner cuts with less saturated fat is key for a healthier cardiovascular system. There's a role that red meat plays in cancer as well but we haven't known all that well to what extent until now.
Don't panic!; or, Yes, you can still eat red meat
If you follow health news at all, whether that's online or just catching the evening news on television, you've probably heard about this study, just published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. While the media has been making much of the story, acting almost as if eating red meat of any kind will make you drop dead, the truth is that if you've been following Dr. Gourmet and eating a Mediterranean style diet, you know that there's nothing to be so alarmed about.
Less Red, More White
One of the principles of The Mediterranean Diet is eating less red meat, such as pork or beef, and more fish and chicken. Would this change, alone, have a real impact on your health? It appears so.
Fruits, Vegetables, and Colorectal Cancer
Studies have shown that a diet high in fruits and vegetables can help you avoid a number of types of cancers, including oral cancers, skin cancer, and prostate cancer. But the effect of a diet high in fruits or vegetables has not yet conclusively linked to the incidence of colon or rectal cancers. A team of researchers recently reported on a large-scale study specifically designed to evaluate the risks of several types of cancers, including colorectal cancer.
Avoid Colorectal Cancer: Drink Your Milk!
A study of 45,306 men between the ages of 45 and 79 and without a history of cancer were followed for seven years by researchers in Sweden. The study assessed their level of dairy product intake and correlated the subjects' intake to the incidence of colorectal cancers of various types: colorectum, colon, proximal colon, distal colon, and rectum.
Increased BMI Linked to Increased Risk of Cancer
We know that being overweight puts you at higher risk for heart disease, diabetes, and stroke, but a recent study published in the Lancet (2008;371:569-78) makes it clear that overweight and obesity are linked to an increased risk of certain types of cancers, as well.
A victory for moderation
Colon and rectal cancers are the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States and among the 6 leading causes of cancer deaths worldwide. Naturally there's been a great deal of interest in links between diet and colorectal cancers: here at Dr. Gourmet we've seen evidence that fruits and vegetables in general, fiber in particular, beans, and even dairy products have helped reduce the risk of colorectal cancers, while eating red and processed meats have appeared to increase that risk.
Caffeinated Coffee Linked to Reduced Risk of Colon Cancer
There's a tremendous amount of research available on the benefits of drinking coffee. Much of that research has attributed its positive health effects on the large amounts of antioxidants it contains, regardless of whether that coffee is caffeinated or decaffeinated.
Sex, Fiber, and Colon Cancer
Research into the effect of fiber on colon cancer has shown first that more fiber in your diet protects you from colon cancer, then other studies seem to show that it doesn't. Researchers in Arizona recently combined and analyzed the results of two studies to find that the effects of fiber intake appears to be gender-specific (bet you thought the headline was about something else!).
Bean there, done that!
I have written recently about the positive effects that diet can have on different cancers. We know that people with a normal Body Mass Index have a lower risk of cancer. Studies have also shown a clear link with increased fruit and vegetable intake providing a decrease in the risk of some cancers.
Getting the balance right
We've seen in previous studies that eating red meat has been linked to breast cancer in women as well as colon or rectal cancer. Researchers at the University of North Carolina noted these results as well as those studies that link eating more fruits and vegetables with a reduced risk of these cancers. Similarly, some dietary patterns, such as the Mediterranean Diet, appear to protect against colon and rectal cancers.
Why Well-Designed Research is So Important
Arranging and completing large scale, long term research trials to study people's lifestyle is a complex task. There are so many considerations to adjust for including variables such as age, gender, race, family history of health problems, smoking, income, and on and on.
I'm on chemo - what can I eat that will taste good?
...[I] find myself on chemo for lymphoma and just wondered if you all had done any research at all on how to make things palatable when the tastebuds go awry. I know what to eat and what not to - I just don't know how to make it taste bearable.
What are your suggestions for eating during chemotherapy?
I'm undergoing chemotherapy for B cell lymphoma. Are there any tasty recipes you can recommend that are high in calories to help stop the weight loss?
As a cancer survivor, can I follow the same diet as my diabetic husband?
My husband is diabetic, and I am a cancer survivor. With the guidelines given to me to minimize recurring of the cancer, as well as my health in general after chemo, it seems easier for me to follow a diabetic diet than it would be to try and fix 2 different meals twice a day. Would I be starving my cells and ultimately doing more harm than good if I were to follow his diet?
Timothy S. Harlan, MD, FACP has counseled thousands of his patients on healthy, sustainable weight loss. Now he's compiled his best tips and recipes into a six-week plan for you to learn how to eat great food that just happens to be great for you - and if losing weight is your goal, you can do that, too.
Get the prescription for better health as well as healthy weight loss, including: