In monitoring the latest science and research findings, we have seen numerous studies addressing the problems and impact of chronic intestinal inflammation and the development of colon cancer. This is a serious problem and likely a preventable one for many people at risk.
In this article we will discuss the well known inflammatory bowel diseases and how they can develop into colon cancer. We will also discuss what you can do to prevent it.
- Irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, is a bowel disorder characterized by abdominal pain and cramping, intestinal gas and bloating, as well as changes in bowel movements without a known reason.
- Colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease that results in chronic swelling of the digestive tract, usually in the large intestine (colon) and the rectum. Colitis generally refers to two common types of conditions, either Crohn’s Disease, an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks the gastrointestinal tract, or ulcerative colitis, a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that affects the lining of the large intestine (colon) and rectum. Many patients with these conditions exhibit diarrhea, abdominal pain or bloating, weight loss, and frequent bowel movements.
We are going to first look at a study published in the medical journal Cancer research. Here doctors from Georgia State University examined the link between chronic inflammation of the colon and colon cancer risk. The highlights of this research are shown in bullet-point.
- Inflammation promotes tumor development: “The increased risks conferred by inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) to the development of colorectal cancer gave rise to the term “colitis-associated cancer” and the concept that inflammation promotes colon tumorigenesis.
- Hidden low grade inflammation can cause development of cancer: A condition more common than IBD is low-grade inflammation, which correlates with altered gut microbiota composition and metabolic syndrome, both present in many cases of colorectal cancer.
- Low-grade inflammation caused by artificial food stuffs: Recent findings suggest that low-grade inflammation in the intestine is promoted by consumption of dietary emulsifiers, a ubiquitous component of processed foods, which alter the composition of gut microbiota.
- Disruption or stress in the colon can promote cancer development: Our findings support the concept that perturbations (stress) in host-microbiota interactions that cause low-grade gut inflammation can promote colon carcinogenesis. (1)
Research: Diet is perhaps the biggest factor that can exert the greatest influence on colorectal cancer risk from inflammation. Prevention starts at the earliest states.
Once you are determined to increase your odds for avoiding colon cancer, the battle starts immediately. Researchers suggest that factors that lead to cancer development can start at the earliest stages and the more immediate you tackle these factors clearly the better off you will be.
Cancer starts in the Pre-Diabetes stage with a Pro-Inflammatory Diet
Doctors at the University of South Carolina examined the role of a pro-inflammatory diet in the risk of cancer mortality. Publishing in the European Journal of Nutrition, (2) these researchers focused on the relationship between diet-associated inflammation, as measured by dietary inflammatory index (DII) score, and mortality, with special focus on prediabetics.
- According to its creators, Connecting Health Innovations, “The DII® estimates the inflammatory potential of one’s diet through data provide by having individuals and/or clinicians fill out a food frequency questionnaire. The resulting DII® score is then used to educate and inform individuals about the quality of their diet.”
The researchers used this tool and other tools in following test patients. This is the finding they published on developing diabetes and cancer risk:
- A pro-inflammatory diet, as indicated by higher DII scores, is associated with an increased risk of all-cause, heart disease, all-cancer, and digestive-tract cancer mortality among prediabetic subjects.
The long inflammatory path from poor diet to colon cancer
To connect some more dots, researchers at the University of Massachusetts Medical School wrote in the medical journal: Current opinion in endocrinology, diabetes, and obesity (3) that Insulin resistance, simply your body’s inability to regulate blood sugar, a requisite precursor for the development of type 2 diabetes mellitus, has been implicated in the development of abdominal obesity. Abdominal obesity has been implicated in creating a whole body inflammatory environment. Abdominal obesity has been linked to colon cancer.
- In a November 2018 study, in the European journal of epidemiology (4) doctors focused on the various factors of the well known metabolic syndrome and its relationship to colon cancer. Here abdominal obesity becomes a factor again. The components of metabolic syndrome they looked at were glucose intolerance, abdominal obesity and low HDL-C (good cholesterol) levels. What they found was if you had all three of these problems you had a higher risk of developing colon cancer. A dominating mechanism in this triple threat, chronic inflammation.
The artificial food inflammatory element on the path to colon cancer
Let’s try here to paint a bigger picture of the role of inflammation and its relationship with artificial food stuffs in the development of colon cancer in simple terms as this is a subject matter that we will continue to write more detailed information on in future articles.
In the research from Georgia State University we cited above, those doctors stated that recent findings suggest that low-grade inflammation in the intestine is promoted by consumption of dietary emulsifiers, a ubiquitous component of processed foods, which alter the composition of gut microbiota.
In another paper this same idea is expressed. Here researchers from Israel wrote (5) in the medical journal Gut microbes:
“Obesity is associated with altered gut microbiota and low-grade inflammation. Both dietary habits and food composition contribute to the onset of such diseases. Emulsifiers, compounds commonly used in a variety of foods, were shown to induce body weight gain, low-grade inflammation and metabolic disorders.These dietary compounds promote gut microbiota alteration and gut barrier dysfunction leading to negative metabolic alterations.”
The keywords here of course are artificial sweeteners, low grade inflammation, weight gain, metabolic disorders. Everything is linked through the inflammatory response.
Guides to colon cancer prevention
In the research above you see that there is a long inflammatory and destructive path towards colon cancer. This path is typically a long journey. In that same light, you need to prepare yourself for the long journey back from inflammation. That long journey always begins with the first steps. What are those first steps?
Researchers from the German Institute of Human Nutrition Potsdam-Rehbruecke quantified the impact of combined multiple healthy lifestyle behaviors on the risk of developing colorectal cancer. They wrote of the formation of a healthy lifestyle index in the Journal of gastroenterology:
The healthy lifestyle index was composed by the following lifestyle factors:
a healthy weight;
low abdominal fat;
participating in regular physical activity;
not smoking and limiting alcohol;
a diet high in fruits, vegetables, fish, yogurt, nuts and seeds, and foods rich in fiber, and low amounts of red and processed meat.
The researchers found that the more healthy lifestyle factors the subjects adopted, the lower their risk of bowel cancer. Compared to people who had followed up to one healthy lifestyle behavior, those who practiced a combination of two, three, four and all the five healthy behaviors had a 13%, 21%, 34% and 37% lower risk of developing bowel cancer, respectively. (6)
Avoid a carbohydrate-rich diet, which results in high blood glucose and insulin which raises risks of colorectal cancer
Doctors from Italy wrote in the International Journal of Cancer:
- A carbohydrate-rich diet, resulting in high blood glucose and insulin, has been hypothesized as involved in developing colorectal cancer
- Increasing high glycemic index carbohydrate intake was significantly associated with increasing colorectal cancer risk
- Increasing low glycemic index carbohydrate intake was associated with reducing risk
- High dietary glycemic index and high glycemic index carbohydrate intake were associated with increased risks of cancer at all colon sites
- These findings suggest that high dietary glycemic index and high carbohydrate intake from high glycemic index foods are associated with increased risk of colorectal cancer.(7)
“What can I take?”
When a patient comes into our office with problems of the bowel, intestines and colon, they often ask, “What can I take?” We make recommendations based on research. The research can be voluminous so we will touch on the tip of the iceberg here.
New research suggests the following for colorectal cancer risk reduction:
- A March 2018 study in the journal Clinical & translational oncology (8) supports earlier research that using American ginseng as a supplement would help reverse chronic intestinal inflammation and as such reduce the risk factor for colorectal cancer. In an early study doctors at the University of Chicago wrote of American ginseng’s ability to reduce the inflammatory effects on colitis in laboratory animals. Not only did they discuss the reduction of inflammation, but the doctors also discussed that ginseng “significantly promoted recovery from the colitis” (9)
- In recent published research gathered from a 15 year study, scientists followed patients at higher risk for recurrent cancers of the large bowel. What they were looking for was the preventive potential of vitamins (A, C and E) and selenium supplementation.
Here is what the scientists did:
- A total of 411 patients were randomized to receive either an active compound (200 μg selenium, 30 mg zinc, 2 mg vitamin A, 180 mg vitamin C, 30 mg vitamin E) or a placebo daily for 5 years. Of them, 330 had follow-up colonoscopy (164 in the intervention and 166 in the placebo group).
- After an average follow-up of 4 years, 100 patients had a recurrence: 38 in the intervention and 62 in the placebo arm. The 15-year cumulative incidence of recurrence was 48.3 % in the intervention and 64.5 % in the placebo arm.
- A 39 % reduction of the risk of recurrence was observed in the intervention compared to the placebo group.
- “This study showed study showed a statistically significant effect of antioxidant supplementation on adenoma recurrence.” (10)
There have been numerous studies recently examining anti-oxidants in the fight against cancer. “At present, single natural chemicals are investigated in clinical trials to evaluate their potential chemopreventive activity on different types of cancer. For instance, lycopene and genistein are investigated for the prevention of prostate cancer, resveratrol and curcumin particularly for colon cancer, while green tea is being researched for solid tumors, lung and esophageal cancers. The inclusion of Quercetin in this group will likely expand the possibility to fight against (cancers).”
In our cancer strategies we utilize antioxidants, intravenous vitamin C, dietary changes, nutritional supplementation, hyperbaric oxygen and detoxification, and have received national recognition for our pioneering work in improving the quality of life for our patients living with cancer.
Our approach is one that utilizes holistic methods of healing, close monitoring of your body’s cancer-fighting natural killer (NK) cells, and analysis of your individual cancerous-cell cycle (the number of cancer cells that are either actively dividing or are about to do so).
If you would like to explore more information, please contact our office so we can start a conversation with you.
1 Viennois E, Merlin D, Gewirtz AT, Chassaing B. Dietary Emulsifier-Induced Low-Grade Inflammation Promotes Colon Carcinogenesis. Cancer Res. 2017 Jan 1;77(1):27-40. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-16-1359. Epub 2016 Nov 7.
2 Deng FE. et al. Association between diet-related inflammation, all-cause, all-cancer, and cardiovascular disease mortality, with special focus on prediabetics: findings from NHANES III. Eur J Nutr. 2016 Jan 29. [Epub ahead of print]
3 Hardy OT, Czech MP, Corvera S. What causes the insulin resistance underlying obesity?. Curr Opin Endocrinol Diabetes Obes. 2012;19(2):81-7.
4 Choi YJ, Lee DH, Han KD, Shin CM, Kim N. Abdominal obesity, glucose intolerance and decreased high-density lipoprotein cholesterol as components of the metabolic syndrome are associated with the development of colorectal cancer. European journal of epidemiology. 2018 Nov 1;33(11):1077-85.
5 Suez J, Korem T, Zilberman-Schapira G, Segal E, Elinav E. Non-caloric artificial sweeteners and the microbiome: findings and challenges. Gut Microbes. 2015;6(2):149-55.
6. Bonelli L, Puntoni M, Gatteschi B, et al. Antioxidant supplement and long-term reduction of recurrent adenomas of the large bowel. A double-blind randomized trial. J Gastroenterol. 2012 Oct 13. [Epub ahead of print]
7. Sieri S et al. Dietary glycemic index and glycemic load and risk of colorectal cancer: results from the EPIC-Italy study.Int J Cancer. 2014 Nov 18. doi: 10.1002/ijc.29341.
8 Wang CZ, Huang WH, Zhang CF, Wan JY, Wang Y, Yu C, Williams S, He TC, Du W, Musch MW, Chang EB. Role of intestinal microbiome in American ginseng-mediated colon cancer protection in high fat diet-fed AOM/DSS mice. Clinical and Translational Oncology. 2018 Mar 1;20(3):302-12.
9 Yu C et al. American ginseng attenuates azoxymethane/dextran sodium sulfate-induced colon carcinogenesis in mice. J Ginseng Res. 2015 Jan;39(1):14-21. doi: 10.1016/j.jgr.2014.07.001. Epub 2014 Jul 18.
10 Gibellini L, Pinti M, Nasi M, Montagna JP, De Biasi S, Roat E, Bertoncelli L, Cooper EL, Cossarizza A. Quercetin and Cancer Chemoprevention. Quercetin and Cancer Chemoprevention.