Category Archives: Colon Cancer

What Is Colon Cancer?

What Is Colon Cancer?.


What Is Colon Cancer?

Cancer of the colon which is sometimes referred to as colon or colorectal cancer begins life, initially as a small benign polyp in the digestive tract, that over a period of time mutates and becomes a cancerous tumor.  As the cancer cells multiply they invade and destroy surrounding tissues, eventually breaking away to form new tumors in other organs of the body; this migration of cells is known as metastasis. For example; a cancerous colon cell may break away and develop in either the lungs or the liver.


The Colon

Is made up of three sections, the ascending, transverse and descending (also known as the sigmoid colon) colon. These parts and the rectum make up the body’s gastrointestinal system that digests, processes and eliminates food, through a muscular tube over 5 feet long.  The majority of  colon cancers start in the sigmoid colon just above the rectum.

Colon Cancer

Colon cancer is extremely prevalent in the western world. It is the third most common cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States. Every year over 140,00.00 people are diagnosed with colorectal cancer, and over 50,000 die from the disease.

However, if there is anything good that can be said about cancer,  it is that colon cancer amongst all other cancers is one of the most preventable and treatable if detected early.  It is just a case of changing your diet and lifestyle to one that involves regular exercise and consumption of foods high in fiber and low in saturated fats, processed foods, meats and alcohol.


Early Screening & Detection

However, despite the fact that it can be prevented there is still a high death rate from colon cancer because most people are asymptomatic for many years. The reason for this is that precancerous polyps can take up to 10 years before they change from benign to malignant. They key to survival is early detection and screening. Statistics show that more than 90% of patients diagnosed with colon cancer in the early stages survive more than five years.


Can Colon Cancer Be Cured?

It appears from patient records that colon cancer in the very early stages can often be cured by removing the polyp during a colonoscopy, which is a simple screening procedure that looks into the colon or large intestine as it is sometimes called.

More advanced cancerous tumors usually require surgical removal followed by chemotherapy in many cases.



Dubois D. (2011). Learn the facts about colon cancer symptoms as early detection saves lives –
Ricci-Vitiani, DG Lombardi, E Pilozzi, M Biffon.  (2006) Identification and expansion of human coloncancer-initiating cells –
Wilkinson J. (2011) ‘What is Colon Cancer?’ guide

Could Diet Stop Colon Cancer?

Bowel cancer is a disease that begins as a small growth on the lining of the bowel. This growth, called a polyp can be easily removed through surgery, but if it is not it can develop into a cancerous tumour, which can then grow through the bowel wall and spread to other organs nearby.

Every year over 140,00.00 people are diagnosed with colorectal cancer, and over 50,000 die from the disease. These are very high numbers for a disease that can virtually be prevented by diet and lifestyle. In fact 35% of bowel cancers could be prevented through diet and lifestyle changes.

Diet And Colon Cancer

According to Professor James Varani at the University of Michigan, a diet low in fiber but high in red and processed meats increases the risk of bowel cancer. It is also known that a diet high in saturated fat puts a person at an increased risk of developing bowel cancer, as well as being overweight.

Fruit and vegetables provides the most fiber, vitamins and minerals in the western diet today, and consuming a diet rich in these types of foods appears to be associated with a lower risk of bowel cancer.

There have been studies that have suggested that fiber intake, in particular, ones from whole grains, may lower colorectal cancer risk.

Another dietary risk to developing colorectal cancer is increased alcohol intake, especially among men. In several studies it was found that there was a 19% increase in risk for an increase of 100g/week. There was an increase in colon cancer risk in men and women separately at this level of consumption, and an increase in rectal cancer for the same intake in men only.

Vitamins, calcium, and magnesium

In some studies it has been suggested that taking daily multi-vitamins containing folic acid, or folate, may lower colorectal cancer risk. However, there is a word of caution on these results as other studies have stated the reverse and showed that folic acid might help existing tumors to grow.  However, more research is required in this area.

Also, there are some studies that suggest increasing calcium intake to lower colorectal cancer risk. But because increased levels of calcium may be a possible risk of prostate cancer in men, it is not recommended that men increase their calcium intake in order to prevent colon cancer.

Whilst calcium and vitamin D may work together to reduce colorectal cancer risk, some studies have not found that these supplements reduce risk.

In a few studies it has been found that a diet high in magnesium reduced colorectal cancer risk especially in women.

Obesity And Colorectal Cancer

Most studies have found that there is a risk factor of colon cancer and being overweight or obese. This applies to both men and women but the link is stronger in respect to men.

Among men, a higher BMI is strongly associated with increased risk of colorectal cancer. It appears that the distribution of body fat is the important factor, with abdominal obesity, showing the strongest association with colon cancer risk.

The larger waist size is associated with increased colon cancer risk in men (33% risk increase per 10cm waist circumference increase) and women (16% risk increase per 10cm waist circumference increase).

A number of reasons have been put forward for the association of obesity with increased colon cancer risk. One reason is that high levels of insulin in obese people may increase or promote colon cancer development.

What You Should Do To Prevent Colon Cancer

It is well documented that people who eat a diet high in fiber can reduce their risk of developing colon cancer. Therefore, the best advice about diet to possibly reduce your risk of colorectal cancer is to:

  • Limit or eliminate your intake of red and processed meats.
  • Eat more vegetables and fruits.
  • Avoid obesity and weight gain around the midsection.
  • Avoid excess alcohol.

Further Reading:

Learn the Facts About Colon Cancer Symptoms As Early Detection Saves Lives



Moskal, A., et al., Alcohol intake and colorectal cancer risk: A dose-response meta-analysis of published cohort studies. Int J Cancer, 2007. 120(3):664-71ferences: