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March has been set aside as Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month which is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in both men and women.  As many of you know reference previous blog “It’s A Family Affair” colon cancer is one of the “Genes” I am genetically wearing.  Because both parents were early diagnosed and treated, every 5 years since the age of 45 I have been screened as a preventive measure. Please be “Aware” of the importance of early detection and treatment it is essential and encouraged.

Prevention is also a critical component to consider, is there anything we can possibly do to help prevent the occurrence of Colorectal Cancer?  Could our Diets be a significant factor or even enhance the development of Colorectal Cancer, I am a strong Believer of the old saying “you are what you eat”.

For years it has been reported in the literature regarding the high consumption of “processed” meats and refined foods, possibly increasing the risk of colorectal cancer.  However, recently, I ran across an interesting study by Fred K. Tabung in the January 18th issue of JAMA which continues to support this.  The study showed that certain foods enhance the production of inflammatory chemical within the body and when this biological response becomes a chronic condition the end results lead to various diseases.

Inflammation has the spot light, simply put the body’s defense mechanism.  Think about what happens when you have an infection, or an injury, the body automatically starts to increase its army of protectors called “White Blood Cells” along other substances they produce to help fight off the infections; which is good.  Inflammation is also what you experience when you accidently cut yourself, the redness, pain, heat and swelling that occurs is inflammation at work promoting healing.  However, lifestyle factors such as eating certain foods can also enhance inflammation on a regular basis and when this occurs we end up with negative side effects which can lead to various diseases such as colorectal as demonstrated in the study.

The study evaluated the presence of inflammatory markers/presence in two groups of participants based on the type of food consumed.  One group consumed a high inflammatory diet referred to as “Proinflammatory Diet” and the other consumed a low inflammatory diet “Anti-Inflammatory”.  Study results found that individuals who consumed the Proinflammatory Diet had 32% more inflammatory markers/presence within their bodies than the “Anti- Inflammatory Diet” group. The study supports the consumption of certain foods specifically, a “Proinflammatory Diet” Enhances the risk of developing colorectal cancer.

Since I am genetically predisposed to Colon Cancer, I strive to follow and recommend the Life Styles and Eating patterns of the Mediterranean Diet which is considered an “Anti-Inflammatory” Diet.  A brief review is to daily include: Vegetables (leafy greens, dark yellow, broccoli, kale, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower etc.)  Fruit: all deeply colored fruit; Avocados and Olives, Olive oil, Omega-3 fats; Fatty Fish: salmon, sardines, herring. Starch:  whole grains; Nuts: almonds and walnuts; Dark chocolate; Tea, Wine. Please see previous Blog on the Mediterranean Diet.

Foods which Enhance inflammation: Processed Meats (hot dogs, bologna, sausages); Red Meats; Organ Meats. Refined Grains: white bread, white pasta, white rice; Processed foods: crackers, chips; Desserts: cookies, candy, cake, high and low energy drinks; Certain Oils: processed seed and, saturated fats, trans fats; foods with partially hydrogenated in the ingredients list and excessive alcohol consumption.

The consumption of various foods that have been shown to increase chronic Inflammation can have a negative impact on the body over time and my increase the risk of the development of colorectal cancer.  Limit these food within your daily diet because “Your Diet is An Enhancer.”