Colon Polyps / Cancer

Cancer of the colon ranks as a second major cancer, after lung cancer in the United States. Colon cancer is also one of the most curable forms of cancer and also is preventable. Colon cancer starts as a polyp which is a growth in the lining of colon. If this polyps can be detected early and removed then colon cancer can be easily be prevented.

Heredity and genes, smoking and alcohol abuse, red meat, especially smoked one in excess amounts and chronic inflammatory condition of colon such as ulcerative colitis are main risk factors for development of colon cancer. Familial polyposis is a genetic condition which can lead to colon cancer in very young individuals.

Some times polyps contain very small cancer and it can be cured with colon polyp surgery. Colon cancer once diagnosed requires surgical resection of affected part of colon after deciding that there is no spread of the disease in the liver. Colon cancer chemotherapy and some times radiation may be required to treat advanced stages of colon cancer.

Prevention of polyps/cancer starts with screening by colonoscopic exam. A person whose parents, brothers or sisters have colon cancer or polyps is at significantly greater risk of developing it. There is also risk, but to a lesser degree, if uncles, aunts or grandparents have had the disease. Therefore, people with a family history of polyps and colon cancer should be evaluated for need of colonoscopy.

The red, yellow, orange and green colored fruits and vegetables such as peppers, oranges, strawberries, and carrots are particularly rich in a complex mixture of substances called antioxidants. The vegetables such as cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli have very high levels of natural cancer fighting chemicals and are recommended for colon polyps treatment. There is increasing medical data that people who eat these foods plus generous amounts of unprocessed grains have less colon cancer. Data was published in 1999 which studied a large group of nurses over a 14 year period. Folic acid or folate seemed to be very protective for these females especially those who received over 400 micro-grams a day from food and/or a multivitamin. It may also be of benefit in colon cancer prevention.

Meat contains saturated fat as do many prepared products such as ice cream and especially non-animal foods such as pastries, sauces, etc. These fats are broken down by the body’s digestive juices and bile. Some of these byproducts are known to cause cancer in laboratory animals. There is some evidence that meat rich diets may increase the risk of breast cancer and possibly colon cancer. The risk may depend on how the meat is prepared. Smoked red meat has been associated with colon cancer. Nevertheless, a reduced meat and saturated fat diet probably contributes to colon health to some extent.

Studies in the 1960’s and 1970’s seemed to relate a fiber rich diet with reduced colon cancer in rural Africans. However, the hope that it could reduce colon cancer risk has been called into question by a large study of nurses who had little or no change in developing colon cancer or polyps even when eating up to 25 grams of fiber a day. This is just one study and the positive health benefits of high fiber foods are many, so these foods are still highly recommended. Calcium is necessary for bone strength and for many of the body’s important chemical processes. Animal studies have found that a lack of calcium leads to excessive cell growth in the colon. It is not clear if calcium has a cancer preventive benefit for humans. Still, since it is important to the body in so many other ways, everyone should get enough calcium in their diet. All adults should have 1000 mg per day. Aspirin in some, but not all, medical studies has been found to reduce incidence of colon cancer. It is known that prostaglandin (a hormone-like substance in the body) may promote excessive or abnormal cell growth in the intestine. Aspirin appears to interfere with prostaglandin which may account for a possible role in the treatment for cancerous colon polyps. Aspirin can cause stomach ulcers, serious bleeding or hemorrhagic strokes, so it should only be taken with the approval of a physician.

For more information about colon polyps/cancer, visit our specialist at Riverdale NJ.