Colon Cancer…Can It Be Prevented?

Posted on September 5, 2007. Filed under: Health Benefits |

On July 10, 1982, my father passed away after a two-year battle with colon cancer. Colon cancer is the third most common cancer in the United States.  It develops slowly from benign polyps (grape-like growths) on the lining of the colon (large intestine) Since then, the prevention of colon cancer has been one of my personal goals.  This September 15th  I turn 50, and while that brings many things to mind, in the forefront of what turning 50 means to me…is that it now is the time for my first colonoscopy!  Even though I would rather just about be doing anything other than having a colonoscopy, I have scheduled it, and on Sept. 27th, two weeks after turning 50, it will be done.  In addition to regular screening, what else can be done to prevent colon cancer?  .

The American Cancer Society has some suggestions:
1.     Don’t smoke; drink alcohol in moderation.
2.     Eat less meat, processed foods, more  high fiber foods.
3.     Take folate, calcium supplements.
4.     Exercise regularly.
5.     Schedule a colon cancer screening.
I have taken to heart these suggestions from the American Cancer Society.  It was because of the colon cancer history in my family that I started taking flax on a regular basis about five years ago.  Flax is high in fiber; one-ounce supplies 32% of the recommended daily intake of fiber.  Yet, it is not only because of the fiber that flax is helpful in the quest to prevent colon cancer.  I attended the Flax Institute held in Fargo, North Dakota this past March.  The Flax Institute is a gathering of people who meet every two years to share and discuss research results about flax.  (Mark and I attend every two years, in an effort to keep abreast of the latest scientific findings regarding flax.)  This past March my ears perked up as Chaandradar Dwivedi from the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Veterinary Sciences from South Dakota State University, Brookings, SD stood up to present his findings on the Chemopreventive Effects of Dietary Flaxseed Meal on Colon Cancer Development.  Flax seed was chosen to be studied, as it is the richest plant source of lignan precursors.  Lignans have been shown to be protective against breast and colon cancer.  Flax seed is also high in Omega 3 fatty acids.  The purpose of the study was to determine the effects of flax seed on colon tumor development and to compare it with dietary corn meal, containing Omega 6 acids.  The incidence of colon tumors (cancer tumors were initiated) in rats fed flax seed was 29.4%.  The incidence of colon tumors in corn fed rats was 82.6%.   The tumors in the flax fed rats measured 5.2mm; the tumors of the corn fed rats measured 44.4mm.  In this study, the ingestion of dietary flax seed meal, which is high in both Omega 3 fatty acids and lignans, showed a substantial chemopreventime effects on colon tumor development in rats.  The results from this study indicate that taking moderate amounts of flax seed on a daily basis could be effective in reducing the risk of developing colon cancer.  Further studies need to be done in this area, and I look forward to learning about them and reporting them to you.For my part, I will continue to take flax on a daily basis, exercise, continue my tobacco-free, healthy lifestyle and have the screening as recommended by the American Cancer Society.  The good news is that…colon cancer can be prevented!

To Your Good Health,

Esther Hylden RN


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