Preventing Colon Cancer: Early Detection is the Key
Colon cancer, also known as colorectal cancer (CRC) is the second leading cause of cancer death every year in the United States. There are 148,000 new cases of colon cancer each year in the United States. 57,000 people die every year from this form of cancer.
The bad news is that 40% of individuals who are diagnosed with colon cancer do not survive 5 years. The very good news is that colon cancer is highly treatable if it is detected early. In fact, 95% of all colon cancers start with polyps in the colon. Colon cancer has a greater than 95% survival when it is detected early. For all of these reasons, it is critically important that people over the age of 50 are screened regularly for colon cancer. We at Rippe Health Assessment recommend yearly colon cancer screening for all of our patients and recommend the gold standard procedure of a colonoscopy for patients over the age of 45 or individuals who have a significant family history for colon cancer.
For all patients at Rippe Health Assessment, we have traditionally used a test that is called fecal occult blood testing (FOTB) as an early screening for colon cancer. Recently a new technology has become available to allow more precise, non-invasive testing for early signs of colon cancer. This new technology is based on the fact that advanced polyps or colon cancers shed a different DNA into the stools than do regular cells in the lining of the colon. This DNA sequencing can be picked up using advanced DNA technology. This year, RHA will become the first executive health program to routinely offer this advanced DNA testing for early detection of colon cancer.
The bottom line is this. Colon cancer can be either prevented or highly effectively treated if it is discovered early. We are Rippe Health Assessment are committed to programs for prevention or early detection of all forms of cancer. This year we will offer a variety of screening procedures for early detection or prevention of colon cancer including fecal occult blood testing, DNA based stool sample testing, and colonoscopy. Please speak with your physician or health counselor at Rippe Health Assessment to determine which test is right for you.
James M. Rippe, M.D.
Founder and Director
Rippe Health Assessment Nutrition and Colon Cancer
The connection between diet and colon cancer risk is far from clear. However, the National Cancer Institute indicates that populations that consume a diet high in fat, protein, calories, alcohol, meat (both red and white) and low in calcium and folate have a higher risk of developing colon cancer than populations that consume a low-fat, high fiber diet. Vitamin D has also entered the picture as possibly being protective against colon cancer. Here's what you can do with the evidence available to lower your risk:
- Eat a low fat diet with an appropriate amount of calories for a healthy body weight
- Include non-meat (legumes, tofu, low fat dairy, nuts, etc) protein sources in place of meat whenever possible
- Consume plenty of fiber-rich food such as whole grains, vegetables and fruits daily
- Obtain adequate calcium (low fat yogurt, milk, cheese, and calcium fortified products), vitamin D (fortified milk, salmon, and sardines) and folate (dark leafy greens, fortified grains and cereals)
- Limit alcohol to <1 drink per day if you are a woman and <2 drinks per day if you are a man
Von Nguyen, MS, RD
Exercise and Colon Cancer Risk
Physical activity or regular exercise has been shown to reduce the risk of many chronic illnesses. Colon cancer is just one of the chronic diseases that exercise seems to have a strong inverse relationship with. Epidemiological evidence has shown that regular exercise can reduce colon cancer risk by up to 30-40% in both men and women.
One of the many questions related to this relationship are, “how much exercise is needed?” and “what are the physiological mechanisms that cause cancer risk to be decreased that relate to exercise?”
There is more research to be done in these areas, but there are some preliminary answers to these questions. Researchers currently recommend being physically active at a moderate-vigorous intensity for 30-60 minutes/day, most days of the week to decrease colon cancer risk. Some studies also show a strong dose-response relationship between intensity of exercise and risk reduction (i.e. the more vigorous the exercise, the more risk reduction).
The biological mechanisms that seem to reduce cancer risk relating to exercise include: increased transit time of food contents in the GI tract (decreasing the amount of time the GI tract could be exposed to cancer causing agents), increasing antioxidant defense system, decreases insulin and insulin-like growth factors (these may be responsible for tumor development in obese individuals), enhanced immune system function, and reduction in body fat percentage.
Justin J. Fiutem M.S., C.S.C.S., R.C.E.P., C.E.S.
Pharmacologic Prevention of Colon Cancer
Recent preliminary studies have suggested that regular use of aspirin and other NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) may reduce the risk of developing colorectal polyps and colon cancer. NSAIDs include pain relievers and fever reducers such as Motrin and Advil (ibuprofen), Aleve (naproxen), and the newer COX-2 inhibitors, Celebrex, and Bextra. While this is exciting news, medical authorities warn that it is still too soon to recommend regular use of these medications for the general public; most of the studies were conducted in people who were already taking these medications for other reasons such as arthritis or prevention of heart attacks. Since NSAID use can result in stomach irritation, which may lead to serious or even life-threatening bleeding, current information suggests that for those at average risk for colorectal cancer, the potential for side effects outweighs the benefits. Further studies are in progress, which should better determine NSAIDs role in the prevention of colon cancer.
CELEBRATE NATIONAL PHARMACY WEEK: UNDERSTAND YOUR MEDICATIONS
Did you know that taking your medications properly is one of the best ways to avoid future health care costs? Each year, thousands of people end up in the hospital, fail to get better, and spend more money than they have to simply because they do not take their medication properly. Pharmacists can educate you about your medications, both prescription and nonprescription. October 25-29th is National Pharmacy Week. The American Pharmacists Association, the national professional society of pharmacists, says that every person should be able to answer these questions before taking any new medication.
- What is the name of the medication and what is it supposed to do?
- How long should I take it?
- Does this medication contain anything that can cause an allergic reaction?
- Should I avoid alcohol, any other medicines, foods, and/or activities?
- Should I expect any side effects?
- What if I forget to take my medication?
- Is it safe to become pregnant or to breast-feed while taking this medication?
- Is there a generic version of the medication that my doctor has prescribed?
- How should I store my medications?
Please contact the Rippe Health Assessment if you are interested in learning how to take advantage of the new DNA testing for early detection of colon cancer.