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NMU 120 – Colon CA young people and fat intake

Nutrition / Natural Medicine Update No 120 (February 25, 2019)

with Dr. James Meschino


Topic: Why Younger People are Developing Colon Cancer at an Escalating Rate and One Way to Stem the Tide

Source: Journal “Cell” (February 2019)


According to the American Cancer Society, deaths from colorectal cancer in people under 55 are creeping up and scientists have identified a major reason for this disturbing trend. Reporting in the February 2019 issue of the journal “Cell”, researchers published a study showing a clear link between genetic risk for colon cancer and a dietary triggering mechanism for its development via the ingestion of a high-fat diet. We have known for some time that inheriting or acquiring a genetic defect in the APC gene increases the risk of colon cancer. Yet, not everyone with this genetic defect develops colon cancer. The APC gene is a gene that, when functioning normally, helps colon cells divide at a regulated rate. A defect in this gene potentially allows colon cells to begin to divide excessively forming benign tumors (known as polyps or adenomas), which often progress to full-blown colon cancer (adenocarcinoma).

However, not everyone with an APC genetic mutation develops polyps or colon cancer. It appears that diet is the key factor that amplifies the risk. The study in the journal “Cell” showed very clearly that under experimental conditions animals bred to have an APC genetic mutation, who were fed a high-fat diet showed a significant increase in the development of colon tumors (both benign and malignant), whereas animals with the same genetic defect fed a lower fat diet did not show an increase in colon tumors. Thus, the APC gene defect is like the loaded gun, but it was the introduction of the high-fat diet that pulled the trigger in colon cancer development. The researchers went on to show that a high-fat diet increases the secretion of bile acids into the intestinal tract, which acts on a signaling protein within colon stem cells. The bile acids essentially inhibited the action of a colon stem cell protein known as the FXR. This inhibition allows cancer stem cells to proliferate out of control, especially if not held in check by the APC tumor suppressor gene. And this is how cancer begins.

Some studies show that over 17% of the population carry the APC gene mutation, making these individuals more prone to colon cancer development. Research continues to show that high-fat intake, typical of the North American diet or Western diet, including from high-fat meats, cheese, butter, ice cream and other high-fat dairy products, deep-fried foods, breaded foods, the ingestion of coconut oil, palm oil, many pastries, mayonnaise, creamy salad dressing and cream sauces, is a major contributing factor to the development of colon cancer. Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death when combining statistics for men and women. Usually thought of as cancer that strikes older individuals, there has been an alarming increase in recent years of colon cancer striking people under the age of 55.

Colon cancer is considered highly preventable in most cases, but it requires paying attention over one’s entire lifetime, beginning at a young age, to dietary and lifestyle strategies shown to help prevent its development. One of the key strategies has been shown to be limiting, as much as possible, the bad fats in your diet. Get the bad fats out as much as possible. You know what I’m talking about. Of course, undergoing routine colonoscopy assessment after age 50 is also critical to find any benign tumors (polyps) and have them removed before they degenerate into malignant colon cancer.

I have included the research paper reference in the text below.


Ting Fu, Sally Coulter, Eiji Yoshihara, Tae Gyu Oh, Sungsoon Fang, Fritz Cayabyab, Qiyun Zhu, Tong Zhang, Mathias Leblanc, Sihao Liu, Mingxiao He, Wanda Waizenegger, Emanuel Gasser, Bernd Schnabl, Annette R. Atkins, Ruth T. Yu, Rob Knight, Christopher Liddle, Michael Downes, Ronald M. Evans. FXR Regulates Intestinal Cancer Stem Cell ProliferationCell, 2019; 176 (5): 10.1016/j.cell.2019.01.036


Eat smart, live well, look great,

Dr. Meschino

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