Inside Colon Cancer - Part II - Weight loss with no known reason

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By Dr. Carlton Fraser

InsideColonCancer_medical.jpgThe power to reduce our risks of developing colon cancer is in our hands. Here are some steps to lowering your risk of colorectal cancer:

* Regular screening (colorectal) test from age 50 onwards are recommended.
* Eat a healthy diet high in fiber and low in fat; eat most colorful fresh fruit and vegetables (which may contain chemopreventive agents; vitamins, minerals and fibers). Include, vegetables (prepared leafy green veggies); cruciferous vegetables e.g. okra (OKRA has insoluble fiber that helps keep the intestinal tract healthy decreasing risk of colon cancer) broccoli and Brussels sprouts are especially important; whole grains from breads, cereals (wheat bran supplements may help inhibit polyp formation), nuts and beans. Also a source of calcium with low fat milk. Fibers in natural foods (fruits and vegetables) are more effective for cancer prevention. Vegetable fat is not a risk factor. Research suggests that up to 35 percent of cancers are related to poor diet.

* Ca (calcium) may help by regulating cell overgrowth. Take 1200-2000mg of calcium daily in leafy greens and reduce colorectal cell growth, especially if polyp already present. Stool ph (acidity) and effect of bile, fatty acids on the lining of the colon (mucosa), may contribute to colorectal cancer depending on ph. Calcium may help regulate the cancer promoting role of bile and fatty acids.

* Monitor your red and processed meat consumption. There is a two and a half times normal risk of colon cancer when red meat is eaten daily (animal fats) rather than a few times per month. High consumption of red and processed meat over a long period of time is associated with an increased risk for a certain type of colon cancer, according to a study in the January 12 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

* No tobacco is recommended throughout your lifestyle.

* Exercise. A minimum of 30 minutes a day, no less than 3 times a week. Moderate exercise is defined as activity that burns 150 calories of energy a day or 1000 a week. Try walking, yard work or recreational games like tennis or basketball.

* Take multivitamins daily. Vitamins and minerals may regulate cellular growth rate of the cells that line the colon.

* Maintain a healthy weight.

* Protect yourself from the sun especially between 10am and 4pm.

* Bi-Digital 'O' Ring Testing is recommended.

* Aspirin protects against colon cancer and a study proved that in patients with a history of colorectal cancer there was a 35% lower risk of polyps in those taking 325mg of aspirin. Aspirin offers protection against cancer through its effects on the COX (cyclooxygenase enzymes) which are responsible for the production of the hormone like substances called prostaglandins and thromboxanes. COX-1 produces thromboxanes that support platelet (clothing) functions and COX-2 enzyme produces prostaglandins that protect the stomach lining. Prostaglandins may also contribute to inflammation and cancer. Long-term aspirin therapy is not appropriate for everyone: most people do not have the same elevated risk for developing colorectal cancer as the people in these trials, and aspirin, like many drugs, can have side effects.

* Talk to your doctor about medicines that may prevent cancer.

According to MD Anderson of the Cancer Center at the University of Texas, "approximately 2/3rds of all cancer cases could be prevented if people acted on everything known about cancer prevention.

Colon cancers (adenocarcinoma) grow slowly and may be present for several years before symptoms appear; although asymptomatic they may be detected by the presence of fecal occult blood. Chronic blood loss from right sided colonic cancers may cause iron deficiency, anemia. Left sided colon (descending) may develop with colicky abdominal pains and change in bowel habits constipation or paradoxical diarrhea (diarrhea resulting from fecal matter forcing past obstruction(s)).

To investigate, seek evidence of anemia, elevated liver function (metastasis) and especially in post surgical, CEA (Carcino Embryonic Antigen) should remain normal after complete resection of tumor (if surgery has been done). Persistent elevated levels after a normal post surgical period indicates recurrence. Surgical resection is thought to be the treatment of choice in virtually all patients who can tolerate general anesthesia.

The following and other symptoms may also be caused by colon cancer or by other conditions. A doctor should be consulted if any of the following problems occur.

* Stools, those narrower than usual.
* General abdominal discomfort (frequent gas pains, bloating, fullness, or cramps).
* Weight loss with no known reason.
* Constant tiredness.
* Vomiting.

Different types of treatment are available for patients with colon cancer. Some treatments are standard (the currently used treatment), and some are being tested in clinical trials. Certain factors affect prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options such as the following:

* The stage of the cancer (whether the cancer is in the inner lining of the colon only, involves the whole colon, or has spread to other places in the body).
* Whether the cancer has blocked or created a hole in the colon.
* The blood levels of carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA; a substance in the blood that may be increased when cancer is present) before treatment begins.
* Whether the cancer has recurred.
* The patient's general health.

Choosing the most appropriate cancer treatment is a decision that ideally involves the patient, family, and health care team.

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of death due to malignancy in the United States; in the U.K., it is the third most common cancer in males after prostate and lung, and in women the second most common after breast. Approximately 6% of Americans will develop colorectal cancer. According to a study done by Mayberry et al at Emery University in Atlanta, after adjustments for age, sex and geographic area, the black to white mortality hazard ratio (HR) was 1.5 (95% confidence interval [CI]=1.2-1.9) indicating that the risk of death among black patients was 50% higher than that among white patients. An estimated 160,000 new cases and 60,000 deaths occur annually. According to the American Cancer Society, diet and lack of adequate exercise are implicated in approximately 1/3rd of all adult cancer cases. Colon and recto-sigmoid junction cancer patients tended to have eaten foods with at least 5% saturated fat on a consistent basis. Colon cancer patients practice a high saturated fat foods-low fibrous foods eating as opposed to a low saturated fat food-high fibrous food diet.

Statistics indicated that prolonged cigar (tobacco) smoking in men and null parity (no pregnancy) in women were noted increased risk factors. There are also factors called inhibitions (e.g. certain vitamins, minerals and nutrients found in fruits and vegetables) that are believed to slow the process while other factors called promoters such as smoking or eating a high fat diet (as above) can speed up the process.

Mounting pre-clinical and clinical evidence indicate that indole-3-carbinol, a key bioactive component in cruciferous vegetables (Brussels sprouts), has multiple anticarcinogenic and antitumorgenic properties gamma-Tocopherol (Vitamin E) that can shield colon cells through a mechanism that enhances the expression of genetic factors that protect against cancerous growth. A healthier lifestyle will not guarantee you a cancer free life but it will reduce your risk.

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