Cancer is a severe and deadly disease caused due to which there is an uncontrollable cell growth that tends to spread rapidly in all parts of the body. Colorectal or colon cancer is a type of cancer that takes place either in the colon or rectum. Where this condition generally affects the older adult, people of any age group can be a prey of this severe condition. This is the world’s third most common cancer with more than a million new cases each year. The good news about colon cancer is that it can be prevented. While exact causation remains an enigma many factors including dietary factors have been implicated time and again. The role of dietary fiber remains most controversial yet most important. Let us know more about colon cancer and how including fiber in your diet can help you to prevent colon cancer from Dr. Nitesh Rohatgi, Senior Director, Medical Oncology, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurugram.
What is Colon Cancer?
Before getting to know about the ways to prevent colon cancer and how including a fiber rich diet can be helpful, let us first understand what colon cancer is. Colon or Colorectal cancer is a severe condition that tends to affect the large intestine and starts at the rectum or colon which is the lower part of the digestive system. It begins with non cancerous lumps of cells at the
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colon wichare known as the polyps which are formed inside the colon. Over time these non cancerous polyps present inside your colon tend to turn into cancer. Where this condition generally affects the older adults, it can be present in a person at any age whatsoever. Some of the common symptoms of this disease are-
- Blood traces in stool
- Bone fracture
- Swelling in hands and feet
- Abdominal Cramps
- Gas and bloating
- Blurry vision
- Persistent change in bowel movements
- Breathing difficulties
- Abdominal pain
- Change in colour of stool
- Unintentional weight loss
Colon cancers come in four different types namely- Carcinoids, gastrointestinal stromal tumors, lymphomas and sarcomas.
Role of Fiber in preventing Colon Cancer
Whole grains are a major source of dietary fiber and contain germ, endosperm, and bran, in contrast with refined grains that contain only the endosperm. The germ and bran contain numerous nutrients, which are removed during the refining process. In addition, whole grains are a major source of several vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals, which have anticancer properties and could plausibly influence the risk of colorectal cancer by several potential mechanisms.
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Also Read: Eat These High Fiber Foods For Weight Loss
It has been found that the risk reduction in risk of colorectal cancer was seen with only 10 g daily of total dietary fiber the legumes had the maximum reduction while fruit and vegetable fiber had somewhat lesser effect and cereal fiber somewhere in-between. Common legumes include lentils or dal chickpeas or chana and beans or rajma/lobia.
Along with preventing colon cancer these food items have other benefits to your health as well such as increased stool bulk and dilution of carcinogens in the colonic lumen, reduced transit time, and bacterial fermentation of fibre to short chain fatty acids. The very important European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study reported a linear decrease in the risk of colorectal cancer with increasing fiber intake and a subsequent analysis reported an 18% increased risk of colorectal cancer with low fiber intake.
In conclusion it is highly recommended to increase intake of dietary fibre to reduce risk of colorectal cancer in addition to significant reduction of processed red meat and alcohol.
With inputs from Dr Nitesh Rohatgi, Senior Director, Medical Oncology, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurugram.