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Diet and Colon Cancer Risk

Nutrition / Natural Medicine Update No. 3 (March 16, 2016)

with Dr. James Meschino

Research Topic: Diet and Colon Cancer Risk
Source: Journal – Clinics in Colon and Rectal Surgery, Nov., 2009


Over many years, studies have shown that only 5-10% of colo-rectal cancer cases result from inherited, genetic mutations.

Up to 70% of colo-rectal cancer appears to be preventable via improved dietary practices alone.

The key dietary strategies linked to increased risk of colo-rectal cancer include:

  • High animal fat foods, and especially red meat (beef) products.
  • Low intake of fruits and vegetables.
  • Low intake of dietary fiber.
  • Regular alcohol consumption.

Other lifestyle factors increasing risk include:

  • Lack of regular exercise.
  • Being overweight.
  • Cigarette Smoking.

Early Detection is Also Critical

Unless there is a family history of colo-rectal cancer or a personal history of previous colon polyps (adenomas), or an inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease, Ulcerative Colits) most doctors encourage screening for colon cancer starting at age 50. This is an important part of preventing death from colo-rectal cancer as it usually takes 5-10 years for polyps to progress to a malignant state. These polyps can be removed during a colonoscopy screening before they are able to cause any life-threatening consequences.


Haggar, F.A., Boushey, R.P., Colorectal cancer epidemiology: Incidence, mortality, survival and risk factors. Clinical Colon-Rectal Surg., 2009 Nov; 22(4): 191–197.

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