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NMU – 177 Nutrition and Colon Cancer Risk: Review of Available Studies

Nutrition/Natural Medicine Update No 177 (October 15, 2020)

with Dr. James Meschino


Topic: Nutrition and Colon Cancer Risk: Review of Available Studies

Source: British Medical Journals “Gut” (September 2020)

A study published in the British Medical Journals, Gut, reviewed all relevant studies published in English and French in recent years examining the link between diet, lifestyle, and colon cancer. It is widely accepted that the development of colon cancer, the second leading cause of cancer death in most developed countries, is strongly influenced by dietary and lifestyle factors. In this analysis, certain dietary factors were shown to be protective against colon cancer and certain dietary factors were shown to encourage the development of colon cancer.

Regarding protection against colon cancer, magnesium intake of at least 255 mg/day was associated with a 23% lower risk compared with the lowest intake of magnesium, and a high intake of the B-vitamin folic acid was associated with a 12-15% lower risk. Eating dairy products was associated with a 13% to 19% lower risk of the disease. This is probably due to the calcium content of dairy products, as seen in other studies. Fiber intake was associated with a 22%-43% lower risk, while fruit/vegetable intake was associated with up to a 52% lower risk, with added benefit for every additional 100 g/day (3.5 ounces) increase in intake. Consumption of soybeans and soy products of all kinds was associated 8-15% decrease in colon cancer risk.

Factors that increased the risk of colon cancer included, red meat and processed meats, which were associated with 12-21% increased risk for colon cancer. In fact, a 10-30% increased risk for colon cancer was seen for each additional 100 gm/d of red meat consumed. So, it was a dose-dependent effect – the more red meat you consume, the greater the risk. The same appears to be true for alcohol consumption – the more you consume the greater the risk. This was true even for individuals having only 1-2 drinks per day.

Overall, most of the findings from this extensive review are consistent with the studies I have seen published and have reported on over the past twenty years or so.

This analysis is a good summary and reminder of how important our dietary practices are at helping to prevent the second leading cause of cancer death; colorectal cancer. Of course, early detection via colonoscopy and fecal occult blood analysis are vital steps to catch colon cancer or pre-malignant tumors before they reach a life-threatening stage, but proactive, wellness-oriented individuals should be just as keen about aggressively applying dietary and lifestyle practices that prevent the development of colon polyps and malignant colon tumors in the first place. The study I am reporting on today gives us a bit more insight into how we can fine-tune our colon cancer prevention strategy in this regard.

I have included the study reference in the text below.


Chapelle N, Martel M et al. Recent advances in clinical practice: colorectal cancer chemoprevention in the average-risk population. British Medical Journals – Gut. September 2020


Eat Smart, Live Well, Look Great,

Dr. Meschino

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