How to alter your diet to avoid colon polyps

Can Diet Play a Role in Preventing Polyps?

How to alter your diet to avoid colon polyps

The right eating and exercise plan can help lower your risk of polyps and colorectal cancer, according to a report from the American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund.

What Are Polyps?

Polyps are growths that form in the tissues on the inner lining of the colon. They start as small, benign (harmless) bumps, but as they grow and become larger, they can transform into cancer. The actual cause of polyps is not known but may be related to dietary or hereditary factors.

Colorectal cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the United States, a disease that impacts over 135,000 people per year and causes more than 50,000 deaths. However, if detected early, colorectal cancer has over a 90% survival rate, which is why colorectal specialists urge all patients over the age of 50 to undergo a colonoscopy exam. Over 90% of patients impacted by colorectal cancer are over 40 years old.

Healthy Habits to Help Prevent Colon Polyps

Colon polyps can lead to cancer if not detected and removed. Therefore, it makes sense to learn more about them and what you can do to prevent them. Modifying your diet can provide health benefits, and evidence suggests that you can lower your chances of developing polyps and colorectal cancer by adapting the following healthy habits:

  • Consume whole grains
  • Eat foods containing dietary fiber
  • Consume dairy products
  • Take calcium supplements
  • Eat less red meat
  • Consume less processed meat
  • Reduce the intake of alcoholic drinks

Foods to Help You Prevent Polyps

It is believed that eating more whole grains reduces colon cancer risk, and now, the research backs it up. In fact, eating about three servings of whole grains daily can lower colorectal cancer risk by 17% (one serving is equal to a cup of cereal, one slice of bread, or half a cup of rice or pasta).

Foods that are high in fiber — such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables are vital to preventing polyps and colorectal cancer, as they contain a myriad of anti-carcinogenic nutrients, minerals, and other natural chemical compounds that help to ward off the disease.

Brown rice, whole wheat bread, and high-fiber bran ready-to-eat cereal are excellent sources of dietary fiber. Additional fiber-enriched food sources include:

  • Cooked beans and legumes such as navy beans, lima beans, pinto beans, mung beans, yellow beans, adzuki beans, split peas, chickpeas, and lentils
  • Fresh fruits such as pears, guavas, avocados, apples, oranges, and bananas
  • Dried fruits like dates and figs
  • Berries including cranberries, blackberries, and raspberries
  • Seeds such as pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, and sunflower seeds
  • Bulgur
  • Sweet potatoes and winter squash
  • Collard greens, cabbage, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts

Foods to Limit or Cut Back On

Research suggests that eating less of the following foods may provide health benefits and lower your chances of developing polyps:

  • Fatty foods, such as fried foods
  • Red meat, such as beef and pork
  • Processed meat, such as bacon, sausage, hot dogs, and cold cuts

These kinds of meats contain higher levels of heme iron, which has been shown to promote the growth of colorectal tumors. To modify your meat intake, eat no more than 500g or 17.5oz (cooked weight) a week of red meat and eat little if any processed meat.

There is also a convincing connection between alcohol intake and polyps and colorectal cancer. Those who consume more than 30 grams of alcohol (the equivalent of about two glasses of wine) per day are at increased risk. If you do drink alcohol, it is best to keep your intake moderate.

Overweight and Obesity

Eating more whole grains and veggies and less meat may have another risk-reducing benefit: helping you maintain a healthy weight. Strong evidence suggests that people who are overweight or obese are more likely to develop colon cancer.

A 2007 meta-analysis found that being overweight is a colon cancer risk factor for both men and women. The heavier you are, the higher the risk. Therefore, it’s essential to be physically active and exercise regularly.

In the US, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer among both men and women with an estimated 371 cases diagnosed each day. The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) estimates that 47% of US colorectal cancer cases could be prevented each year through healthy lifestyle changes.

If you have any questions or would like more information about colon polyps, colonoscopy, or colorectal cancer, please contact us or call 386-672-0017.

How to alter your diet to avoid colon polyps

Colon polyps are growths along the lining of your colon (part of the large intestine) and rectum. While not the usual topic of casual small talk, colon polyps are pretty common. Is there a diet to prevent colon polyps? Not really, but eating the right foods may lower your chance of getting them.

Video of the Day

Where Do Colon Polyps Come From?

Experts aren't sure about the exact cause of colon polyps, so there's no known method to completely prevent them. But there are some people who may be more prone to colon polyps, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), including people who:

  • Are older than 50.
  • Have a family member who has had polyps or colorectal cancer.
  • Have inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Have obesity.
  • Smoke cigarettes.

While colon polyps aren't painful, they can cause blood in your stool and general fatigue, according to the NIDDK. They may also lead to colon cancer. For that reason, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends routine colorectal cancer screenings from age 50 to 75 for most adults. Those older than 75 should ask their doctor about whether screening is a good idea. If precancerous polyps are present, they're typically removed.

While there's no surefire way to avoid colon polyps, research suggests that diet and exercise can play a significant role in preventing them.

Polyps and Your Plate

Eating a high-fiber diet and avoiding red meat and processed meat is one promising way to prevent colon polyps.

"Research is actually quite strong in relation to diet and reduced risk of colon polyps," says Alicia Romano, RD, LDN, a specialized clinical dietitian at Tufts Medical Center in Boston and a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Though, diet alone doesn't offer complete prevention, since there are other risk factors for polyps such as family history, health history and genetics, she says.

The NIDDK recommends eating a diet high in fiber, which includes fruits, veggies, beans and things like bran cereal. Romano recommends eating a minimum of 3-5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day. When picking which fruits and vegetables to include, let them be a feast for your eyes, too. "Color and variety ensure a wider access to potentially protective nutrients," Romano says.

When it comes to grains, like rice or bread, Romano suggests making at least half of the ones you eat whole grain. Think: brown rice, 100 percent whole wheat or whole grain breads and cereals. Ancient grains are good, too — things like quinoa, amaranth, bulgur and buckwheat.

There are some foods you should work to avoid, too. Red meat, like beef, pork and lamb, as well as processed meats, like deli meat, hot dogs and sausage should all be avoided. Alcohol should be limited, too, she says, to one drink per day for women, and two for men.

Other Polyp Prevention Strategies

The NIDDK also says that maintaining a healthy weight is an important polyp prevention strategy. And smoking is associated with colorectal cancer and should be avoided.

Exercise may also play a role in preventing colon polyps. Romano cites a general recommendation of 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity and two strength training sessions weekly. Tight for time? A study from June 2012 in ​BMC Research Notes​ suggests that even an hour of exercise per week may help prevent colon polyps.

In terms of additional protection, a low dose of aspirin every day has been shown to prevent colon polyps from developing into colon cancer, according to the NIDDK, but you should talk to your doctor to see if that's the right option for you.

If you've already had polyps and want to prevent them from coming back, Harvard Health Publishing recommends much of the same — eat less meat and talk with your doctor about taking aspirin.

With regular screening, diet and exercise, you'll be doing everything you can to reduce your risk of colon polyps and colorectal cancer.

TUESDAY, April 28, 2015 (HealthDay News) — When a group of black Americans switched their diet from a typical American one to that of South Africans, certain risk factors for colon cancer began to fade away, a small study found.

The change was rapid, the researchers noted, suggesting the power of diet to alter colon cancer risk.

“Our study suggests that Westernization of the diet induces changes in [signals] of colon cancer risk within two weeks,” study co-author Stephen O’Keefe, of the University of Pittsburgh, said in a news release from the Imperial College London.

Conversely, switching from the high-protein, low-fiber Western diet to a traditional African high-fiber, low-fat diet reduced certain risk factors for of colon cancer in the gut. This indicates “that it is likely never too late to change your diet to change your risk of colon cancer,” O’Keefe said.

According to the researchers, prior studies have suggested that dietary change can quickly alter colon cancer risk.

“Studies on Japanese migrants to Hawaii have shown that it takes one generation of Westernization to change their low incidence of colon cancer to the high rates observed in native Hawaiians,” O’Keefe said.

The new study involved a group of 20 black American volunteers and 20 more participants from rural South Africa. Under close supervision, the participants swapped diets for two weeks.

Before the switch, however, all of the participants underwent colonoscopies. A second procedure was performed at the end of the study period.

The researchers also assessed certain risk factors for colon cancer, including biological markers for the disease. And they examined bacteria samples taken from the participants’ colons.

When the study began, nearly 50 percent of those in the American group had polyps, or abnormal growths, in the lining of their colon. Although these growths are not harmful, they could eventually lead to cancer, O’Keefe’s team noted.

In contrast, none of the volunteers from South Africa had polyps upon entry to the study.

After two weeks of eating the African diet, the American volunteers showed dramatic reductions in colon inflammation, the researchers said. They also showed declines in certain other signals tied to colon cancer risk.

On the other hand, colon cancer risk factors rose significantly among the Africans who made the switch to a high-fat, high-protein, low-fiber American-style diet, the team said.

“We can’t definitively tell from these measurements that the change in their diet would have led to more cancer in the African group or less in the American group, but there is good evidence from other studies that the changes we observed are signs of cancer risk,” study co-author Jeremy Nicholson of Imperial College London said in the news release.

The good news, he said, is that “people can substantially lower their risk of colon cancer by eating more fiber. This is not new in itself but what is really surprising is how quickly and dramatically the risk markers can switch in both groups following diet change.

One possible explanation for the effects of diet on colon cancer risk is the way bacteria in the gut respond or adapt to the change, the researchers explained. For those in the American group, switching to a high-fiber diet led to increase in the production of butyrate, a byproduct of fiber metabolism that can help prevent cancer.

“The gut microbiome is being increasingly recognized as an important contributor to human health,” added Dr. James Kinross, a colorectal surgeon and a member of the research group at Imperial. “This research shows that gut bacteria are critically important for mediating the link between diet and colon cancer risk. This means we can look to develop therapies targeting gut bacteria as a way to prevent and treat cancer.”

According to the study authors, colon cancer is the fourth leading cause of death from cancer around the world, claiming more than 600,000 lives each year. Rates of colon cancer are much higher in the United States and other western nations than in Africa or the Far East.

If your gastroenterologist (GI doctor) or other medical provider finds polyps during your colonoscopy, there is a large chance that you will need to undergo a polyp removal. Polyps are not always dangerous, but it’s a good idea to remove all adenomatous, or pre-cancerous polyps before they get a chance to turn malignant, or cancerous.

How to alter your diet to avoid colon polyps

Getting polyps removed from your system is a great way to prevent colon cancer from either developing or spreading. Patients with a history of polyps in their family’s medical histories should be screened regularly to ensure that pre-cancerous polyps be removed as soon as possible.

Polyps are not always dangerous, but it’s a good idea to remove all adenomatous, or pre-cancerous polyps before they get a chance to turn malignant, or cancerous. Getting polyps removed from your system is a great way to prevent colon cancer from either developing or spreading.

In medical terms, the procedure is known as a polypectomy, or a colonic polypectomy. During a colonoscopy, the doctor can usually perform the polyp removal right then and there, to prevent the patient from having to undergo another colonoscopy later. During a colon polyp removal, abnormal growths along the wall of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract are surgically removed through the use of devices inserted into the body via the colonoscope.

Polyp Removal Procedure

The polyp removal procedure varies depending on the size of the polyp. Smaller polyps can be removed using a small tool with a cutting apparatus attached to the end. The device is inserted into the colonoscope and guided through the GI tract to the location where the polyp has started to grow. The surgeon can simply cut off extra tissue while viewing the inside of the patient’s body on a television monitor. For larger polyps, a different device called a noose or snare is used. The device has a small, electrical wire attached to the end of it, which loops around the base of the polyp and squeezes it until it burns off. This method, called cautery, is useful in removing larger polyp from the colon and also in preventing the patient from bleeding too much internally after the procedure. If a polyp is too flat or too large to cut off safely in its natural state, the endoscopist will sometimes perform a saline or methylene blue injection underneath the polyp (also done through the endoscope). This lifting procedure is then followed by a snare removal of the flat surfaced polyp. This procedure is referred to as endoscopic mucosal resection or EMR.

How Does a Colon Polyp Removal Feel?

The polyp removal itself is actually painless because the inside of the colon lacks any of the nerve endings needed to feel pain. However, a polyp removal is almost always paired with a colonoscopy, so that surgeons can gain access inside the colon. Unfortunately, patients usually find the process of bowel prep and sedation before a colonoscopy quite burdensome, even though many patients do not even remember the colonoscopy or polyp removal procedure once it’s been completed. Patients are required to completely empty their bowels the day before their colonoscopy procedure by using laxatives and by avoiding solid foods. The reason for this is that any residual fecal matter can be mistook for a polyp or other sign of colon cancer during the colonoscopy procedure.

After a Polypectomy

Soreness in and around the rectal and abdominal area is normal after a colonoscopy. Patients also may feel weariness for a few days after the procedure. After the colonoscopy, the patient will return to a recovery area, where they will be asked to pass gas prior to leaving. You will always need a ride home after a colonoscopy, since the sedative medications will still be in your system making it unsafe to operate a vehicle. Although polypectomies are generally safe procedures, about 1 in every 1 thousand patients does experience perforation, or tearing, of the colon wall after polyps have been removed. Any post-procedural bleeding that occurs can usually be controlled, but tearing of the colon wall may require surgery to repair, and very rarely leads to death.

Although polypectomies are generally safe procedures, about 1 in every 1 thousand patients does experience perforation, or tearing, of the colon wall after polyps have been removed.

Overall, a colon polyp removal is one of the most important procedures a patient at risk for colon cancer can decide to have. Leaving polyps unmonitored leaves a big chance that those polyps will turn malignant and spread quickly. Talk to a colonoscopy specialist if you feel you need to check for colon polyps.

Dec. 9, 2003 — In about five minutes each morning, you may be able to effortlessly and substantially reduce your risk of the nation’s second most deadly cancer: Just take an aspirin, a multivitamin, and eat a bowl of fiber-packed cereal with some milk. If you want even more protection, add a 10-minute walk on sunny days without wearing sunscreen.

So suggest the results of the one of the largest and most comprehensive studies to date on factors that raise and lower the risk of colon cancer. In this new report, vitamin D shines — it’s associated with a one-third reduced risk of serious colon polyps that often lead to cancer in men getting at least 645 IUs of this nutrient each day.

“That’s what you’ll find in a multivitamin supplement and a small glass of milk,” says lead investigator David A. Lieberman, MD, chief of gastroenterology at the Portland VA Medical Center. “Other vitamins also seem to have a protective effect, but our study suggests a stronger protective effect from vitamin D.”

That’s because vitamin D keeps cells from over-proliferating and multiplying too quickly. “Cells in the lining of the colon are constantly turning over and reproducing,” Lieberman tells WebMD. “A drug that could prevent that, theoretically, could prevent cell mutations that can lead to cancer.”

A similar protective effect — about one-third reduced risk of these polyps — was noted in men who took a daily aspirin or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen or naproxen. Just over 4 grams of cereal fiber a day, which is less than one-quarter ounce, also offered the same degree of protection. –>

The Value of Vitamin D

Taking a multivitamin — most of which contain 400 IUs of vitamin D — was associated with reducing polyp risk by about 25%. These multivitamins also contain adequate amounts of calcium, folate, vitamin E, and selenium, which Lieberman also found to help lower polyp risk, “but not as much as vitamin D,” he says. In order to get the full protective effect of vitamin D — at 645 IU — add a small glass of milk daily to the multivitamin.

That doesn’t surprise Michael Holick, MD, PhD, director of the Vitamin D Research Lab at Boston University Medical Center and considered by many to be the nation’s leading authority on vitamin D. He was not involved in Lieberman’s research, which is published in this week’s Journal of the American Medical Association.

“In 1941, the very first edition of the medical journal Cancer Research included a study showing that people who lived in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Vermont, and other higher-latitude states had a higher risk of dying from all types of cancer than people in Alabama, the Carolinas, and other sunnier states,” Holick tells WebMD.

“In the 1980s, there were other studies linking vitamin D specifically to colon cancer. It was shown that colon cancer was higher in people deficient in vitamin D and that by increasing vitamin D to healthy blood levels, colon cancer risk was reduced by 50%. We all recognize that vitamin D is critical for bone health, but we have not appreciated, although we have known for at least 20 years, is that we need adequate amounts to keep cell growth in check.”

Lieberman’s study was a detailed analysis of how various dietary, lifestyle, and genetic factors influenced the development of these colon polyps, which often lead to colorectal cancers that kill some 55,000 Americans each year. None of the 3,100 veterans enrolled — almost all men — had any signs of colon polyps or cancer when the three-year study began, but being between ages 50 and 75, they were at a statistically higher risk of colon cancer.

They participated in the study at 13 VA centers across the U.S., but their levels of sun exposure were not measured. Most of the body’s vitamin D comes from sunlight on bare skin, and getting about 10 minutes a day of sunscreen-free sun exposure when weather permits can absorb some 20,000 IUs of vitamin D, says Holick.

“This can be stored in fat layers,” he says. But during winter months, he recommends taking a daily multivitamin, along with a separate 400 IU vitamin D supplement to lower risk of colon and other cancers.

Avoid Smoking, Red Meat

As expected, Lieberman’s study also confirms previous research that being overweight, alcohol consumption, or frequently consuming fatty meats can boost risk. Men having beef, pork, or lamb more than four times a week were nearly three times as likely to develop polyps.

But the big surprise was in the risk caused by smoking. Being a current smoker doubled the risk of these polyps — more than having a parent or sibling with colon cancer, which upped risk by 70%. Lieberman’s theory: Smoking stimulates the overgrowth of cells in the lining of the colon, as it’s been shown to do in other organs.

“In past studies, smoking was found to have a smaller or marginal effect, but we found it was profound — never before was the risk higher than a high-degree relative with colon cancer,” Lieberman tells WebMD. “This provides yet another reason to not smoke.”

How to alter your diet to avoid colon polyps

BlogColonoscopy & Colon Health

When you’ve got an inflamed colon, you want to do your absolute best to avoid foods that will irritate your system. Whatever the cause, you want to eat easily digestible foods that will limit bowel movements to promote healing. However, it can hard to know what can make your colon worse off. Even some foods that are considered as “healthy” might exacerbate the problem. Let’s break it down.

First, remember to consult with your doctor about any dietary changes.

Foods to Avoid

  • Raw veggies and fruit: Certain types or parts of fruit and vegetables can upset your colon, causing intestinal distress. The fiber, a type of carb your body does not digest, is what makes these foods hard on someone with an inflamed colon. In addition to raw veggies and fruits, stay away from cooked kale, peas, winter squash, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, onions and corn. Pineapple, figs, berries and certain dried fruit should be avoided.
  • Whole grains: Also a source of fiber, whole grains should be eliminated. No whole wheat bread or pasta, oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa, barley or even popcorn.
  • Certain proteins: Tough meats, nuts and beans should be eliminated. The nuts and beans are sources of fiber and meats that are tough are also hard for your body to digest. Meat is fine if prepared the right way, so broil or braise your lean meat, fish or poultry to make them tender and softer.
  • Some drinks: While it’s pretty important to drink lots of fluids with an inflamed colon, avoid beverages that are carbonated, caffeinated or alcoholic. You should also eliminate prune juice, fatty drinks and sugary drinks. Depending on your tolerance, however, a little bit of these types of beverages might be okay for your system.

It’s still important to eat a variety of things to fulfill daily nutritional requirements. From the list to avoid above, you may think it’d be hard to do. However, there are many foods out there that promote colon health. It’s all about finding foods that will work with your body, and consuming them in safe amounts. Here are some great foods to eat to promote a healthy colon:

  • Omega 3 fatty acids: These nutrients are naturally found in fish, and can have an anti-inflammatory effect.
  • Beverages: Drinking more water can help keep you hydrated and feeling better. Sports drinks with electrolytes can be beneficial too. However, watch the sugar content. If a drink is too sugary, you can always mix one part water with one part sports drink.
  • Probiotics: Full of healthy bacteria, probiotics promote a healthy gut. Yogurt and hard cheeses are full of them, and these two foods are low in lactose. However, if you’re lactose-intolerant you might have to find another method of consuming probiotics, like a supplement.
  • Soft or processed produce: Not all veggies and fruit are hard for your body to digest. In limited quantities, steamed vegetables like broccoli, spinach and carrots are mild enough for your colon. Canned fruits and vegetables can also be gentle on your colon. The acidic base in the canned vegetables helps to diminish the insoluble fiber content. Canned peaches, pears, applesauce, green beans, etc. are all great alternatives to fresh produce. You can also experiment with a small amount of fruit and see how they affect your colon, avoiding the seeds and skins.

When your colon is inflamed, it can be hard to find the right foods to eat and which ones to avoid. Everybody is different, and some people may be more sensitive to certain foods than others. Consider the list above as your guide to eating with an inflamed colon and always remember to talk with your doctor about your diet.

Siamak Tabib, M.D. at Gastroenterology & Hepatology Clinic in Los Angeles offer innovative treatments to improve patients’ quality of life. Located in Los Angeles, Dr. Tabib strives to provide the highest quality care to his patients with his state-of-the-art technology and colonoscopy.

Author: Dr. Siamak Tabib

Dr. Siamak Tabib is a prominent gastroenterology and hepatology doctor in Los Angeles. Commonly referred to as a “stomach doctor,” Dr. Tabib incorporates prevention, diagnosis and treatment for all his patients. These two specialty fields of medicine deal primarily with conditions of the digestive tract.

Home Blog Health How to Get Rid of Polyps Natur.

How to alter your diet to avoid colon polyps

How to Get Rid of Polyps Naturally: Simple and Easy

Polyps are small, abnormal tissue growths that look like mushroom stalks. They are most common in the colon but can also be found in ear canals, in the throat, cervix, stomach, nose, and uterus. Most polyps are non-cancerous but they can cause complications depending on their location of growth. For example, in the colon they can lead to abdominal pain and diarrhea, in the ear canal they can lead to loss of hearing, and in the cervix, they can cause bleeding during sex.

Polyps can sometimes be an early warning sign of cancer, especially when they occur in the colon. It is therefore important to try and get rid of them as non-invasively as possible. Read on for more information about its and the best way to naturally get rid of them.

How to alter your diet to avoid colon polyps

How to Get Rid of Polyps Naturally: Simple and Easy

What Causes Polyps?

The causes of polyps vary depending on the location of their growth. Generally, they grow because of inflammation in the body. In the throat, they grow when someone shouts too loudly or gets hurt by a breathing tube. Foreign objects, cysts, tumors, or excess estrogen can also cause them.

Holistic Ways To Get Rid Of Polyps

Most polyps are benign hence can be left alone to prevent further complications. Other polyps caused by local injury, such as those found in the throat, also just disappear naturally after a bit of time and rest. The first natural treatment for polyps is therefore to live a healthy lifestyle.

Polyps that appear because of general inflammation in the body can be treated through full-body detoxification. This involves avoiding whole foods for a short period of time and only drinking water or permitted green juices to flush the liver and remove toxins from the body.

Another great remedy to get rid of growths is to use CBD oil. This marijuana extract has the powerful medicinal properties of cannabis without its mind-altering side effects. You can also combine a nice powerful CBD oil with a green smoothie. 10000 mg CBD should be enough to notice a difference.

Finally, it is important to get enough rest to give your body time to recover from injuries and inflammation. Combine this with meditation and prayer as this reduces your levels of stress and anxiety which in turn reduces inflammation in your body.

How to alter your diet to avoid colon polyps

How to Get Rid of Polyps Naturally: Simple and Easy

How To Prevent Growths

Healthy Nutrition is the key to preventing most types of diseases, including polyps. Additionally, refrain from consuming alcohol and using tobacco as these create an ideal environment in your body for growths to thrive. Regular exercise will also help you maintain healthy body weight and the low-fat percentage which will discourage the growth of polyps. Prevention is better than cure because many popular treatments for diseases have been proven not to work.

Key Takeaway

Polyps are a type of growth that occurs inside the body as a result of injury or inflammation. A healthy lifestyle is the best way to naturally get rid of them. Other treatments include CBD oil and detoxing. For more information on natural remedies and cancer like how to tell the difference between sunspots and skin cancer and holistic treatment for bladder cancer do read the rest of our blog.

How to alter your diet to avoid colon polyps

Colorectal cancer is one of the most preventable forms of cancer—if you are screened for hidden warning signs while you are still healthy. Screening finds precancerous growths on the colon wall, called polyps, which the doctor can then remove.

“They are not cancer, and most of them have not started to change into cancer,” says Dr. John Saltzman, associate professor at Harvard Medical School and director of endoscopy at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. “If you get them at the precancerous phase, they don’t have a chance to grow and turn into cancer.”

But you will need to come back for follow-up testing to see if more polyps turn up in the future. Here is what to expect.

What are polyps?

A colonoscope, the flexible device used to inspect the colon, can grab and snip off polyps if they are relatively small. The timing of follow-up depends on what kind of polyps the doctor finds, how many, and how big they are.

Hyperplastic polyps: These polyps are not precancerous. Doctors generally remove them anyway, just to be safe.

Adenomas: Many colon polyps are the precancerous type, called adenomas. It can take seven to 10 or more years for an adenoma to evolve into cancer—if it ever does. Overall, only 5% of adenomas progress to cancer, but your individual risk is hard to predict. Doctors remove all the adenomas they find.

Sessile serrated polyps: Once thought harmless, this type of adenoma is now known to be risky. These are also removed.

When to return for follow-up

After polyps are removed, you will need to return for an additional colonoscopy. There is a 25% to 30% chance that a repeat colonoscopy will find additional polyps. How soon you need to return for follow-up depends largely on the size of the polyps found in the first exam.

If the colonoscopy finds one or two small polyps (5 mm in diameter or smaller), you are considered at relatively low risk. Most people will not have to return for a follow-up colonoscopy for at least five years, and possibly longer.

If the polyps are larger (10 mm or larger), more numerous, or abnormal in appearance under a microscope, you may have to return in three years or sooner.

If the exam finds no polyps, “your cancer risk is essentially the average for the population, and you can wait 10 years for the next screening,” Dr. Saltzman says.

How a colon polyp progresses to cancer

How to alter your diet to avoid colon polyps

Get the best exam you can

Whenever you have a colonoscopy, you should have the highest quality exam possible so the doctor can find all the polyps. During the colon-cleansing “prep” before the colonoscopy, follow the instructions to the letter. Eating a low-fiber diet for four to five days may improve the quality of the prep, Dr. Saltzman says. That’s because fiber gets stuck in the nooks and crannies of the colon wall and can block the doctor’s view. For colonoscopy to prevent cancer, the doctor must find and remove as many precancerous growths as possible.

Reducing your risk

After polyp removal, certain steps may lower your risk of colon cancer:

Eat less meat: Eat a healthy diet, with minimal red meat—especially processed or cured meats. Studies suggest that people with meat-rich diets tend to have higher rates of colon cancer.

Aspirin: Some research suggests that taking aspirin may reduce overall colon cancer risk, but the evidence is not definite. If you need to take aspirin for your heart, then it may offer some protection for the colon.

Calcium: Research has also linked a calcium-rich diet to lower colon cancer risk, but this, too, is uncertain. If you are already eating a healthy calcium rich diet to preserve bone health, you might get an extra “bump” of cancer prevention.

You are free to share this article under the Attribution 4.0 International license.

Calcium supplements, taken with or without vitamin D, may increase the risk of small growths in the bowel called polyps, a new trial of more than 2,000 people shows.

“This study examines the risk of a really interesting class of colon polyps called serrated polyps,” says lead author Seth D. Crockett, assistant professor of gastroenterology and hepatology in the University of North Carolina School of Medicine.

“Specifically, we were interested in ‘sessile serrated polyps’, which have only recently been recognized as important colon cancer precursors that give rise to 20-30 percent of sporadic colon cancer cases.”

“For some patients… data from this study could alter the balance of risks and benefits of calcium supplementation.”

“Sessile serrated polyps are an important target of colon cancer screening,” Crockett says, “but are more difficult to detect on colonoscopy compared to adenomatous polyps because of their flat shape and subtle appearance.”

“The findings from this study were somewhat unexpected,” he says. “There is some evidence from epidemiologic studies that people who have calcium rich diets are at lower risk of colon polyps, including serrated polyps. So it stands to reason that calcium supplementation might have beneficial effects in terms of preventing colon cancer or polyps.”

Some earlier studies have shown calcium can help prevent adenomatous polyps. But the news study showed evidence that calcium supplementation (with or without vitamin D supplementation) appeared to be associated with an increased risk of precancerous serrated polyps.

“It’s important to put these findings in perspective and to not cause alarm,” Crockett says. “Calcium and vitamin D supplementation are taken by lots of people, and do have some beneficial effects on bone health. Many people take low doses of calcium in multivitamins (lower than what was used in our study) that are unlikely to be harmful. This possible association does not necessarily negate the other benefits of these supplements.

“But for some patients, including those with a history of serrated polyps and/or smoking, data from this study could alter the balance of risks and benefits of calcium supplementation.”

Polyps are small growths in the lower part of the large bowel (colon). They are non-cancerous, but some could eventually turn into cancer if they are not removed.

Polyps come in different shapes and sizes, with serrated polyps more likely to turn into cancer than conventional polyps. Some studies have suggested that calcium and vitamin D may protect against serrated polyps, but results have been mixed.

So to investigate further, researchers set out to determine whether taking daily calcium and vitamin D supplements reduce the risk of serrated polyps.

They analyzed findings from a large US trial involving over 2,000 patients aged between 45 and 75 who had had at least one serrated polyp detected and removed—and were due to have a follow-up colonoscopy in three to five years.

Researchers excluded patients if they had a family history of bowel cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, or other serious health conditions—and researchers took several factors into account at the start of the study, including sex, diet, body mass index (BMI), and use of anti-inflammatory drugs.

Researchers randomly split the remaining patients into groups to receive either daily calcium supplements, daily vitamin D supplements, both, or neither for three or five years (treatment phase) until their colonoscopsy. Researchers also recorded the effects three to five years after treatment ended (observational phase).

During the treatment phase, neither calcium nor vitamin D had any effect on cases of serrated polyps. However, during the later observational phase (six to 10 years after treatment began), the researchers found increased risks of serrated polyps among patients taking calcium alone and among those taking a combination of calcium and vitamin D.

Calcium supplements may damage the heart

There was evidence that women and smokers were at higher risk when exposed to calcium supplements, but researchers found no association between vitamin D alone and the risk of serrated polyps. The results also suggest an association with calcium supplements only, not dietary calcium.

The researchers recommend further studies to confirm these results, but if calcium and its combination with vitamin D are truly associated with an increased risk of serrated polyps, “this has important public health implications,” they say.

In the meantime, the researchers suggest that patients with a history of pre-cancerous serrated polyps, especially women and smokers, may wish to avoid vitamin D and calcium supplementation.

How to alter your diet to avoid colon polyps

Dietary factors are known to play a role in the prevention of colon polyps, also known as intestinal polyps. The diet tips below may help reduce your risk of developing colon polyps.

Note: the information provided on this website not constitute a substitute for professional medical or health advice. Always seek the advice of a qualified health care provider.

#1: Eat Foods That Contain Curcumin or Quercetin

Curcumin is a phytochemical that gives turmeric its intense yellow pigment. Curcumin has been used, in the form of turmeric, in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine for centuries due to its beneficial effects on a wide range of diseases and conditions. In recent years, also western medicine has started to pay greater attention to this extraordinary compound. In one study, patients with 5 or more polyps in their lower intestinal track were administered 480 milligrams of curcumin three times a day, together with 20 milligrams of quercetin. Quercetin is a naturally occurring bioflavonoid found in high concentrations in yellow and red onions. The average number of polyps in the patients decreased by 60% and the average size of polyps dropped by half after an average of six months.

#2: Reduce Fat Intake Especially from Animal Fat

A high dietary intake of animal fat has been shown to increase the risk of intestinal polyps. Furthermore, a high fat diet is associated with an increased risk of colon cancer. One particular compound that seems to play a major role in this context is arachidonic acid, found primarily in fatty red meats, egg yolks and organ meats. This omega-6 fatty acid has been shown to enhance cancer growth and to facilitate its spread within the body, and some evidence indicates that arachidonic acid is also able destroy cells of the immune system involved in the protection against colon cancer.

In contrast, omega-3 fatty acids, found in fatty fish such as salmon and mackerel and in a few other foods including flaxseed and walnuts, are believed to have a protective effect against colon cancer. However, even then it is wise to limit the total intake of fat to approximately 20% because all dietary fat stimulates the production of bile which may be converted into apcholic acid, a proven carcinogen, if a lot of fat stagnates in the large intestine for too long.

How to alter your diet to avoid colon polyps

#3: Ensure a Sufficient Intake of Vitamin D

According to one study, a daily intake of 645 IUs of vitamin D could reduce the risk of dangerous colon polyps by a third. The beneficial effect of vitamin D on colon polyps is based on the vitamin’s ability to control proliferation of cells that might be multiplying too quickly. In addition, vitamin D promotes the absorption of calcium, another nutrient that has been shown to protect against polyps in the intestine. The best sources of vitamin D include liver, egg yolks, fish, and vitamin-D fortified milk products. The body can also make vitamin D when it is exposed to sunlight.

#4: Maintain a Diet with an Appropriate Calcium-to-Magnesium Ratio

Calcium is known for its role in supporting strong bones and teeth, but in recent years calcium has also been heralded for its potentially protective effects against intestinal polyps. One study found that calcium reduced the risk of all intestinal polyps by 14 percent and advanced polyps by 35 percent. The same study suggested that in order to maximize the benefits of calcium a minimum intake of 1,200 mg of the mineral might be necessary. This level of calcium is also recommended for healthy bones. However, calcium appears to be effective against colon polyps only in the presence of sufficient magnesium levels. A calcium-to-magnesium ratio of 2:1 is often advised; however, individual differences can greatly alter the ideal ratio. Furthermore, to get the most out of calcium’s health benefits, combine calcium rich foods with foods high in vitamin D (vitamin D promotes the absorption of calcium from food in the intestines).

#5: Eat Foods That Contain Sulphoraphane

Sulforaphane is a compound that is formed when broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and other cruciferous vegetables are chewed or chopped. In one animal study, researchers found that sulforaphane protected animals’ intestines from polyps. Not only did sulforaphane slow the growth of polyps, it was also able to induce self-destruction of the harmful cells (a process known as “apoptosis”).

More on Colon Polyps & Nutrition:

For more information on the dietary approach to preventing colon polyps, check out:

7 Polyp Preventing Foods
Polyp Fighting Recipes

How to alter your diet to avoid colon polyps

Scientists have studied many foods and dietary components for possible associations with increasing or reducing cancer risk.

Many studies have looked at the possibility that specific dietary components or nutrients are associated with increases or decreases in cancer risk. Studies of cancer cells in the laboratory and of animal models have sometimes provided evidence that isolated compounds may be carcinogenic (or have anticancer activity).

But with few exceptions, studies of human populations have not yet shown definitively that any dietary component causes or protects against cancer. Sometimes the results of epidemiologic studies that compare the diets of people with and without cancer have indicated that people with and without cancer differ in their intake of a particular dietary component.

However, these results show only that the dietary component is associated with a change in cancer risk, not that the dietary component is responsible for, or causes, the change in risk. For example, study participants with and without cancer could differ in other ways besides their diet, and it is possible that some other difference accounts for the difference in cancer.

When evidence emerges from an epidemiologic study that a dietary component is associated with a reduced risk of cancer, a randomized trial may be done to test this possibility. Random assignment to dietary groups ensures that any differences between people who have high and low intakes of a nutrient are due to the nutrient itself rather than to other undetected differences. (For ethical reasons, randomized studies are not generally done when evidence emerges that a dietary component may be associated with an increased risk of cancer.)

Scientists have studied many additives, nutrients, and other dietary components for possible associations with cancer risk. These include:

How to alter your diet to avoid colon polyps

Dr Oz even seems to think he has a perfect health record, saying, “I have done everything right. I don’t have any family history, and yet I’m high risk now.” His personal physician, meanwhile, is implying that even though Dr Oz’s “healthy” diet was perfect, it wasn’t enough to prevent colon polyps, and therefore you might get them too. (And therefore everybody should get screened…) Dr Jonathan Lapook, went on to say “…no matter what you do, you can’t totally eliminate your risk of developing this disease, which is expected to strike 143,000 Americans and kill over 51,000 in 2010.” (… ) Colon polyps, in other words, appear without any cause! Mainstream medicine, you see, believes in the theory of “spontaneous disease” that “strikes” people at random. Sort of like disease voodoo. No matter what you do, they say, you can’t be totally sure that you’re disease free. Therefore, you need all their disease screening protocols, mammograms, and CT scans (which irradiate your body and can actually cause cancer, by the way). What a bunch of nonsense. As any real scientist knows, everything that happens in our universe has a cause. It’s a cause-effect universe, and unless you’re God or can magically change the laws of the universe, you can’t alter the laws of cause and effect. So if you develop colon polyps , there is a cause for it, and that cause is without question related to the foods you’re consuming, because that’s what is in contact with your small intestine, large intestine and colon. (It’s not the only factor, but it’s the primary factor.) And the more you eat meats, cooked foods, cheese, dairy products, fried foods and dead foods, the more likely you are to develop colon polyps.

How to alter your diet to avoid colon polyps

People with a family history of colon polyps are also more likely to get polyps than those who do not have the same history. Small colon polyps are harmless. But over time, some do grow and become cancerous. There’s no way to tell the difference between polyps that will turn into colon cancer and polyps that won’t by simply looking at them. The polyps need to be removed and analyzed under a microscope in a laboratory. If your doctor told you that the polyps removed from your colon were not worrisome, it’s likely that they were removed early, before they had a chance to grow and become cancerous. One of the best ways to find colon polyps is with colonoscopy. During this exam, a long, flexible tube, called a colonoscope, is inserted into the rectum. A tiny video camera at the tip of the tube allows your doctor to view the inside of the colon. If your doctor finds a small polyp, it can usually be removed during the colonoscopy. For larger polyps, a tissue sample, or biopsy, may be taken during a colonoscopy for further examination. If a polyp cannot be completely removed during a colonoscopy, it may need to be surgically removed later. For people age 50 and older who do not have any risk factors for colon cancer other than age, colonoscopies are typically recommended once every 10 years, beginning at age 50. People who have additional risk factors may need colonoscopy more often than that and start having them at a younger age.

Looking for a diet plan for fighting colorectal cancer? Look no further! This article discusses the key elements of the Colon Cancer Prevention Diet.

Note that this is the second page of an in-depth article on fighting colorectral cancer through diet. If you missed the first page, click here.

How to alter your diet to avoid colon polyps

#9: Be Sure to Get Enough Vitamin D

Vitamin D has been shown to reduce colon cancer risk by helping the body get rid of lithocholic acid, a highly toxic and carcinogenic digestive acid that is produced when red meat is consumed. Colon cancer patients generally show high concentrations of lithocholic acid. It appears that the body uses the vitamin D receptor — which is better known for its involvement in regulating calcium levels — to detoxify this harmful acid. The best sources of vitamin D include liver, egg yolks, fish, and vitamin-D fortified milk products. The body can also make vitamin D when it is exposed to sunlight.

#10: Limit Consumption of Animal Fat

Reduce fat intake especially from animal fat. A high dietary intake of animal fat (more than 40% of total caloric intake) has been associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer and adenomas while a low dietary intake of fat (less than 15% of total caloric intake) has been shown to correlate with a low incidence of colorectal adenomas and colon cancer. One particular compound that seems to play a role in this context is arachidonic acid found primarily in fatty red meats, egg yolks and organ meats. This omega-6 fatty acid has been shown to promote cancer growth and to facilitate its spread within the body.

In contrast, omega-3 fatty acids, found in fatty fish such as salmon and mackerel and in a few other foods including flaxseed and walnuts, are believed to have a protective effect against colorectal cancer when consumed in moderation. Eskimos, who eat significant amounts of fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids have a low rate of colorectal cancer. Also laboratory studies have found that omega-3 fatty acids can prevent worsening of colon cancer. The beneficial effects of omega-3 fats may be at least partly due to their ability to reduce rectal epithelial cell proliferation.

However, despite omega-3s’ colon cancer fighting properties, it is wise to limit the total intake of fat to approximately 20% of total caloric intake because all dietary fat stimulates the production of bile, which in turn increases the apocholic acid and lithocholic acid in the gut, both of which are known to have carcinogenic properties. Some researchers also hypothesize that the high calorie content of fat could be a key reason why diets high in fat have been shown to promote colorectal cancer.

How to alter your diet to avoid colon polyps

#11: Get Enough Vitamin A and Carotenoids

Research suggests that there is an inverse relationship between the risk of cancer and the consumption of foods rich in vitamin A and its precursors, the carotenoids. Carotenoids are phytochemicals that give many fruits and vegetables — including kale, spinach, collard greens, carrots, cantaloupe, sweet potato — their green, orange, and yellow colors. The most common carotenoids in the Western diet include beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein and zeaxanthin. The protective effect of carotenoids appear to be particularly strong for lung cancer, but also the risk of colon cancer may be reduced by including plenty of foods rich in carotenoids and vitamin A in diet.

#12: Avoid Foods That May Be Contaminated with Aflatoxins

Carcinogenic substances can occur in foods when certain types of fungus grow on food producing toxins during processing, storage, or transport. These toxins include aflatoxins which are known to cause cancer. Peanuts appear to be particularly susceptible to contamination with aflatoxins, but also many other types of foods, including grains, legumes, nuts, and spices are vulnerable to the fungus producing aflatoxins. Aflatoxins are resistant to cooking and freezing, but care in selecting your foods can greatly reduce your risk of exposure to these toxins:

  • Select fresh seeds, nuts, legumes, and grains (or at least avoid nuts and grains from last year’s harvest)
  • Look for signs of proper storage and avoid foods from countries that have substandard storage requirements
  • Discard nuts that taste stale or look suspicious
  • Eat green vegetables that are rich in chlorophyll to further reduce the risk of harmful impacts of aflatoxins; chlorophyll has been shown to reduce aflatoxins levels

#13: Eat Plenty of Foods Rich in B Vitamins

Vitamin B is in fact a complex of several vitamins that often work together and co-exist in the same foods. Research suggests that a sufficient intake of the B vitamins may significantly reduce the colon cancer risk. High intakes of vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) have been shown to significantly reduce the risk of colorectal cancer, particularly among the elderly and people who consume large amounts of alcohol. Also deficiencies of vitamins B9 (folate), B2 (riboflavin), and B12 have been linked to an increased risk of colorectal cancer.

#14: Ensure A Sufficient Intaker of Calcium and Magnesium

Calcium is known for its role in supporting strong bones and teeth, but in recent years calcium has also been heralded for its potentially protective effects against colorectal cancer. Calcium reduces the rate at which epithelial cells lining the colon multiply, which in turn reduces the risk of colon cancer. It also binds cancerous bile acids, thereby reducing the risk of the colon wall becoming irritated. However, calcium appears to be protective against colorectal cancer only in the presence of sufficient magnesium levels. A calcium-to-magnesium ratio of 2:1 is often advised; however, individual differences can greatly alter the ideal ratio. Furthermore, to get the most out of calcium’s health benefits, combine calcium rich foods with foods high in vitamin D. Vitamin D promotes the absorption of calcium from food in the intestines.

#15: Push Up Your Selenium Levels

Several population studies suggest that the risk of death from colorectal cancer is lower among people with a higher intake of the trace mineral selenium. Death rates from colorectal cancer are significantly lower in areas of the world where selenium is abundant in the soil than in areas where selenium levels are low. Selenium is believed to reduce cancer risk in two ways: First, it is a key constituent of glutathione peroxidase, an enzyme with strong antioxidant powers. Second, selenium is thought to prevent tumor growth by boosting the immune system and by inhibiting the development of blood vessels to the tumor. It is recommended that you get your selenium from foods rather than through supplements; high-dose selenium supplements can be risky as the margin between safe and unsafe doses of selenium is narrow.

For more information on the nutritional approach to combating colon cancer, continue to:

20 Anti-Colon-Cancer Foods
Colon Cancer Fighting Recipes

According to a new study, sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy diet, drinking, smoking, etc can increase risk of colorectal cancer or colon cancer.


In the hectic lives we live, maintaining a healthy lifestyle almost always takes a backseat. We look for convenience and very often ignore the discipline of eating and living healthy. In the study, the research team found that less than 10 per cent of all respondents stated they ate five or more servings of fruit, vegetables and grains per day and only about 25 per cent undertook at least 30 minutes of exercise four times per week. These are shockingly poor numbers.

The findings suggest that a healthy lifestyle can help reduce the risk of the disease. “Colon cancer is a preventable disease. These results emphasise the known modifiable factors that can alter the risk,” said Carol Burke, a gastroenterologist at Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, US.

Burke and colleagues developed the online survey to provide respondents information about their colorectal cancer risk based upon self-reported personal and family history of colorectal cancer and polyps. The survey generates suggestions for each participant to modify risk factors through screening as well as lifestyle and dietary changes.

The five-minute web-based questionnaire asks respondents about age, gender, ethnicity, height, weight, dietary factors, smoking history, physical activity, personal and family history of colorectal cancer or polyps, and adherence to screening.

The results showed that respondents who exercised more, followed a healthy diet and did not smoke were less likely to have a personal history of colorectal cancer or colon polyps

The findings were presented at the Digestive Disease Week 2017 being held from May 6-9 at McCormick Place, Chicago.

How to alter your diet to avoid colon polyps

Yogurt is a healthy food, and it may also be a cancer fighter, a new study suggests.

Men who had two or more servings of yogurt a week had a 26% lower risk of developing precancerous growths in their colon, a new study reports. Researchers didn’t find the same cancer-fighting benefit for women, however.

No funding from yogurt industry

“These data suggest that other characteristics of yogurt, such as its potential role in altering the natural bacteria in our guts, may have cancer-preventive properties,” said researcher Dr Andrew Chan. He’s a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston.

But researchers cautioned that the study doesn’t prove yogurt prevents colon cancer, only that there appears to be an association.

Specifically, the findings suggest that Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus, two bacteria usually found in yogurt, may reduce cancer-causing chemicals in the colon.

Researchers said yogurt may also reduce acid in the gut, creating a more hospitable environment for these beneficial bacteria. In addition, yogurt may fight inflammation, helping to reduce cancer risk, they said.

“These findings require further corroboration in other populations and additional work in understanding the mechanisms by which yogurt may affect gut health,” Chan said.

Researchers said they did not receive any funding for the study from the yogurt industry.

Colon polyps

For the study, Chan and his team collected data on nearly 33 000 men and nearly 56 000 women.

All had an endoscopy between 1986 and 2012 to check for growths inside the lower bowel. Every four years, they also told researchers about their diet and how much yogurt they ate.

During the study, more than 5 800 men developed colon polyps, as did more than 8 100 women. The abnormal growths, also called adenomas, precede development of cancer.

Men who ate yogurt two or more times a week had a 26% lower risk for the kind of adenomas that are likely to become cancerous and for those in the colon rather than the rectum.

Their risk for noncancerous adenomas was 19% lower, researchers found.

Bounce for gut health

Chan’s team, however, didn’t find any link between yogurt consumption and adenoma risk in women.

Dr Arun Swaminath is director of inflammatory bowel disease at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. “It’s not clear why this association didn’t hold true for women,” said Swaminath, who had no role in the study.

He said it’s also unclear if yogurt with probiotics – live bacteria and yeasts that help keep the gut healthy – is superior to plain yogurt, “though the mechanism of benefit is thought to result from improvements to the microbiome.”

In any case, tweaking your diet to include more yogurt is easy and may be beneficial, Swaminath said.

“If you’re motivated, you can replace your red meat servings with yogurt to get a fantastic bounce for your gut health,” he said.

6 recipes to help you skip the red meat and eat lots of colorful fruits and veggies

by Patricia Edmonds, June 20, 2011

How to alter your diet to avoid colon polyps

Reduce your risk of colon cancer by eating the right foods.

En español | As nutrition director for the American Cancer Society (ACS), Colleen Doyle says she’s regularly asked for some miracle list of superfoods that will prevent cancer.

There’s no such thing, Doyle says. But there are ways to eat that reduce cancer risk in general, and specifically the risk of colorectal cancer, the third leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States.

Recipes From the American Cancer Society

Join AARP Today — Receive access to exclusive tax tips and expert advice

This year alone there will be 141,200 new cases, ACS predicts, and about 49,400 deaths from the disease. And 90 percent of new cases and 94 percent of deaths will occur in people 50 and older.

The food we eat is among the things we control that can reduce colon cancer risk. When it comes to diet, here is what the ACS advises:

Limit red meat and processed meat. Stats show that eating red meat daily and processed meats several times a week increases colorectal cancer risk. Red meat may raise colon cancer risk because potential carcinogens form when it’s cooked at high temperatures, and because the iron in it generates free radicals that can cause cancer-inducing DNA damage. In processed meats, some substances used to prolong shelf life contribute to compounds that can damage DNA.

"I don’t think the ACS would tell people, ‘Don’t even have one hot dog, ever,’" Doyle says, "But if you’re somebody who eats cheeseburgers and steaks every day, you want to think about cutting down and looking at alternatives."

Increase fruits, vegetables and whole grains. "We’re seeing less colon cancer in people who eat a mostly plant-based diet — lots of fruits and vegetables and whole grains," Doyle says. To reduce colon cancer risk, "you want to eat a diet with lots of colorful fruits and vegetables. We encourage people to eat at least five servings a day with lots of variety and lots of color. We also encourage people to incorporate more legumes and beans, as an alternative to red meat. And we encourage people to eat whole grain products — with breads, cereals and pastas, look on the ingredient list and be sure that ‘whole something’ is the first ingredient."

Limit alcohol. "There’s some evidence that alcohol consumption can increase the risk of colon cancer in both men and women," Doyle says. So ACS joins other health organizations in recommending that women have no more than one drink a day and men no more than two drinks (with one drink defined as 12 ounces of beer, 1.5 ounces of hard liquor or 5 ounces of wine).

Included in this article are links to six recipes reprinted, with permission, from the American Cancer Society. The Great American Eat-Right Cookbook: 140 Great-Tasting, Good-for-You Recipes (Atlanta, American Cancer Society, 2007).

A colonoscopy is a type of colon test that helps identify lesions or polyps in the colon and rectum. During the procedure, a flexible tube with a camera attached to it is inserted into the anus and passed up to the end of the large intestines. If polyps are found or a biopsy is needed, the doctor can snip off pieces of tissue or remove the polyp using tools. There is a lot of information about what to eat before a colonoscopy but there isn’t as much information as to what to eat after a colonoscopy.

What to Eat After Colonoscopy

After a colonoscopy, your bowels will be empty. Following the colonoscopy, there are certain foods you can take in order to get your bowels back in working order. Here are some tips:

1. Fluid

You may be a bit dehydrated after your colonoscopy because the prep for the procedure makes you lose a lot of liquid from your system. For this reason, you should take in lots of fluids and electrolytes in the form of products like PowerAde and Gatorade to restore the fluid balance in your body and help you gain electrolytes. If you cannot take in oral fluids after your colonoscopy, you may need to receive IV fluids in order to get back your normal fluid volume. You should not drink any alcohol for about twelve hours following a colonoscopy.

2. Light Foods

Light foods are easily digested, simple to chew and easy on the stomach, which includes foods like fruit juices and vegetable soup. Heavier foods, such as greasy items and steak shouldn’t be eaten until the sedative wears off. Sedating medicines may result in vomiting and nausea, and can make it difficult for you to chew tough or chewy foods.

3. Low Residue Diet

Your colorectal surgeon might tell you to eat a low residue diet after the colonoscopy. Low residue diets are low in fiber and won’t irritate the colon right after a colonoscopy. This will also lessen the number of stools you have.

Foods in a low residue diet include white bread and white rice. Patients should avoid having foods that are high in fiber, such as fruits with skins, raw fruits, dried legumes, vegetables with skin on them and raw vegetables.

4. Probiotic Foods

These foods are very healthy for you because they contain the “good bacteria” your colon needs for optimal health. These good bacteria can balance the bad bacteria left over in your body. Probiotics help optimize digestion and clean out acidic waste, giving us a great deal of energy and strength. A good probiotic food you can eat is cabbage, which can be made into any type of salad or used in a blender as part of a smoothie.

Regular Diet

What to eat after a colonoscopy? You should resume your regular diet, especially if you are healthy and didn’t have any complications from your procedure. A regular diet includes eating a variety of different food, such as fruits, vegetables, carbs, lean proteins, fats, oil and minerals. If you need to eat a special diet, ask your doctor’s approval and advice. You should always stay away from foods that are high in sugar, fat or calories.

Specific Food to Eat and Avoid

What to eat after colonoscopy? Here are the specific details:

Food Choices for You

Here is a list of good foods that you can try:

  • Banana is a type of fruit that has a medium amount of fiber. This amount of fiber can help the bowels move easier after a colonoscopy. Other good foods include cantaloupe and apples.
  • Eggdropsoup is has plenty of liquid in it and the egg contains just the right amount of fiber for your bowels.
  • Organic berries are healthy foods that have about the right amount of fiber in them. Berries are also very detoxifying. Make sure you buy organic berries because regular berries often have chemicals sprayed on them, which takes away the taste of the food. Good berries to eat include blackberries, blueberries and strawberries.
  • Vegetables and organic leafy green foods are highly detoxifying and contain a medium amount of fiber. Try leafy greens like cabbage and spinach. You can eat them in a salad or as part of a soup or smoothie.

Foods to Avoid After Colonoscopy

Now that you know what to eat after colonoscopy, here are some foods you shouldn’t eat after having a colonoscopy:

  • Stay away from anything that is too difficult to chew or too heavy to eat
  • Foods that contain gluten, such as barley, rye, and wheat
  • Food that are highly processed, such as packaged food
  • Dairy products
  • Huge amounts of meat or other protein
  • Sugary foods or foods that are artificially sweetened

You should stay away from these foods at just about any time in order to keep your colon clean. The procedure causes excessive bloating and a feeling of gas in your abdomen. High fiber foods should be avoided until the day after you have your procedure.

Other Tips to Follow After a Colonoscopy

  • You will be observed for about an hour or two after your colonoscopy until the sedation wears off.
  • If you have been given sedation, you will not be able to drive yourself home and should have someone pick you up or stay with you while you have your procedure.
  • You shouldn’t operate heavy machinery, make big decisions, or drive for a day or so after the procedure. Your activities should be limited in that first day.
  • You will be passing gas from the gas introduced into the colon during the colonoscopy. If you do not pass gas, you may feel some bloating or cramping.
  • You may be able to meet with the doctor following the colonoscopy. He or she will explain the findings; however, the results of any biopsies taken will take several days before they return.

Watch the following video to know what colonoscopy is, how to do before, during and after a colonoscopy:

How to alter your diet to avoid colon polyps

How to get rid of polyps naturally and avoid surgery.

Let’s review an easy way on how to get rid of polyps naturally. Polyps which are little tissue growths may occur in many locations in the body.

Vocal cords, the colon, the bladder, and nasal passages, are just a few places where polyps can develop. We’re going to discuss a method that is natural in helping to rid the body of polyps. However, we must first understand why polyps happen in the first place.

Polyps grow in areas as a result of having to respond to managing a chronic condition due to a harmful circumstance. Polyps happen to be a form where chronic swelling is manifested. Chronic inflammation occurs when a constant stimulus tells the human body that healing is required in that area.

Because of chronic inflammation, things will expand, and they form swollen tissue or what is known as polyps. This condition can be the prelude to malignancies.

Polyps can be transformed easily into malignancies, so they need to be cared for straight away. What’s important to remember when caring for polyps is if you are experiencing this condition in any certain area of the body; it’s most likely occurring all over the body.

If someone suffers a heart attack from having clogged coronary arteries, it is critical to know that there very well may be other arteries that are clogged. It doesn’t mean that those are the only arteries clogged. What this means is that person is at risk of experiencing a kidney issue or potentially a stroke. It also indicates that the capillaries in the entire body will be experiencing this same problem.

The same applies to polyps. They may be happening in one part of the body but it’s important to know that they are most likely in several other locations in the body. You may just be unaware of this as the symptoms are not as obvious.

The Natural Way To Rid Your Body of Polyps

The body has to go through certain things when it’s constantly inflamed. This is never just a local condition. People need to understand that when conditions emerge in the body, they are rarely ever local.

When it is local it is due to a local injury. For example, if someone were to cut their finger on a knife by accident. This is a local area injury to a specific body part.

A full body detoxification is exactly what is required to eliminate the polyps from the body. You can visit certain places that specialize in whole body cleanses or you can do this yourself from the comfort of your own home.

Detoxification means to stop “toxing”! Simply put, stop putting toxins in your body. A green juice fast or a water fast would accomplish this. No whole food would be eaten during the fast.

This enables your colon to be thoroughly cleansed. In conjunction, you would go to bed earlier, and exercise as well as praying and meditation.

Integrating these elements together will absolutely help the body heal itself. The body is always in recovery mode. It is designed to recover. When we don’t eat, our body actively cleanses and recovers.

The best thing we can do when experiencing these symptoms and condition is to support the body’s natural ability to heal and get out of the way. Our body knows exactly what to do and will do it if we get out of the way and let it do its job!

How to alter your diet to avoid colon polyps

Dr. Thomas Lodi combines the best alternative therapies with the best conventional ones. Here he talks about his methods and shares health information that is essential reading – whether you have a cancer diagnosis or want to learn more.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Adopting a diet low in fat and high in fruits and vegetables may have many health benefits, but lowering the risk of developing recurrent colon polyps, precursors of colon cancer, does not appear to be one of them.

Investigators from the University at Buffalo and the seven other centers involved in the five-year national Polyp Prevention Trial report in the April 20 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine that there was no difference in the recurrence of polyps between the diet intervention group and a control group that didn’t change diets. The study was sponsored by the National Cancer Institute.

Peter Lance, M.D., UB associate professor of medicine and physiology, and principal investigator on UB’s portion of the trial, said he was disappointed but not altogether surprised by the negative results.

“The study is consistent with the findings of previous smaller trials and of another large trial (Wheat Bran Fiber Study) published in the same issue. Clearly, dietary change does not make you less likely to develop new polyps after you’ve had all existing polyps removed.

“What the study does not address,” he noted, “and was not designed to address, is what the environment of the colon should be to reduce the likelihood that small, innocent polyps will grow to become cancers.”

Fifty percent or more of people over the age of 55 will develop at least one polyp of the colon during their lifetime, but only a very small number of these polyps progress to cancer, Lance said. “It remains to be seen whether, or at what stage, altering the diet keeps people from developing colon cancer,” he said. “We followed these participants only for four years, and cancer develops over a number of decades. Perhaps intervening earlier in life would result in a different outcome.”

Despite the negative results on polyp recurrence, Lance pointed out one promising finding of the study: People can change their diets for the better and can stick with it.

The PPT trial involved 1,905 people, all of whom had had benign colon polyps removed within the previous six months. UB contributed 262 participants, or about 12.5 percent of the total.

Although few polyps — abnormal growths of the colon lining — progress to cancer, cancer develops only when polyps are present. The PPT trial was designed to determine if eating a diet composed of 20 percent or less of total calories from fat, at least 18 grams of dietary fiber for every 1,000 calories consumed, and lots of fruits and vegetables could prevent polyps from growing back after they were removed.

Participants were assigned randomly to one of two groups: an intervention group, which received intensive counseling on adopting the new diet; and a control group, which received a standard brochure on healthy eating. All underwent colonoscopy at one and four years after randomization, and all completed food-frequency questionnaires throughout the study.

Based on these questionnaires, the intervention was remarkably successful in changing eating habits: Participants in that group cut their fat intake by about one-third, increased their fiber consumption by nearly 75 percent, and ate about two-thirds more fruits and vegetables than before the study. In contrast, participants in the control group made only small changes in these three diet components.

However, the percentage of participants who developed at least one recurrent polyp during the study was nearly identical in both groups: 39.7 percent (intervention) and 39.5 percent (controls). In addition, there was no difference between the groups in the mean number of recurrent polyps per person, nor in their size or degree of progression.

The researchers noted that despite these findings, the idea that a healthy diet may lower the risk of colon cancer should not be discarded entirely. Several factors, including study length and potential reporting errors, could have influenced this study’s findings, Lance said. In addition, such a diet in known to have a favorable impact on cardiovascular disease and other chronic conditions.

How to alter your diet to avoid colon polyps

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month–a good time to make an appointment for a screening.

How to alter your diet to avoid colon polyps

Vi K. Chiu, MD, PhD

Newswise — LOS ANGELES (March 3, 2022) — There are no ifs, ands or “butts” about it: March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and a timely reminder to get screened for one of the deadliest—and most preventable—cancers.

Colorectal cancer is the third-leading cause of cancer death for men and women in the U.S. The American Cancer Society estimates that 106,180 cases of colon cancer and 44,850 cases of rectal cancer will be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2022. Colorectal cancer is expected to cause about 52,580 deaths this year. While deaths from the disease in general have gone down over the last decade, due in part to increased screenings, deaths from colorectal cancer among people younger than 55 increased 1% per year from 2008 to 2017.

“When people are healthy, they don’t think about preventing illness,” said Vi K. Chiu, MD, PhD, director of Gastrointestinal Oncology and Molecular Presision Programs at Cedars-Sinai The Angeles Clinic and Research Institute. “But this old adage is still true: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. We have the tools to prevent this disease.”

Chiu offers these six tips for preventing colorectal cancer:

1. Get screened for colorectal cancer

Screening can help physicians detect and remove abnormal growths called polyps before they become cancer. When detected early, colorectal cancer is highly treatable, Chiu said. Adults at average risk for colorectal cancer should begin testing at age 45. Those with close immediate family relatives—parents, grandparents and siblings—who have had colorectal cancer should begin screening at age 40, or 10 years before the diagnosis of the youngest first-degree relative. Here are the three main types of screening:

  • Colonoscopy: “This is the gold standard for detecting precancerous growths,” Chiu said. “I strongly recommend it over other screening options.” During the procedure, the doctor looks at the inside of the colon and rectum with a long, flexible tube that has a light and small video camera on the end. It is inserted through the anus and into the rectum and colon. Suspicious polyps can be removed.
  • Fecal immunochemical test (FIT)-DNA test: Combines checking for hidden blood in the stool—a possible early sign of cancer—and a second test that looks for cancerous DNA in the stool.
  • FIT-only test: Screens for hidden blood in the stool and detects blood only from the lower intestines. It is performed at home by taking one to three small samples from different bowel movements and sending them to a lab for testing.

2. Focus on your diet

A number of studies have shown that diets rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains are linked with a lower risk of colon or rectal cancer, Chiu said. Consume only small amounts of beef, pork and lamb, and eat fewer processed meats, like hot dogs. Eat whole grains, such as oatmeal, brown rice, popcorn and whole-wheat bread.

Also keep tabs on your vitamin D levels, Chiu recommended. Analysis of a large, international study that followed subjects over time found that low levels of vitamin D were associated with a higher risk for getting colorectal cancer.

3. Exercise

Being active may reduce the risk of colorectal cancer, Chiu said, because it may reduce inflammation in the body. People with inflammatory bowel diseases, such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s, are at much higher risk for colon cancer than the general population. “Exercise may decrease gut inflammation and improve immune surveillance to prevent cancer,” Chiu explained.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends that adults engage in 2 1/2 to 3 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or an equivalent combination of each intensity each week.

4. Watch your weight

Being overweight or obese increases the risk of getting colon or rectal cancer because it can alter the function of hormones, such as insulin and leptin, Chiu said. Obese people have higher levels of insulin, which regulates blood sugar and can cause irregular cell growth in the colon.

To maintain a healthy weight, “don’t fixate on specific foods, but in general, eat lots of fish, vegetables and the other healthy foods we’ve been taught about,” Chiu said. “Basically, decrease your intake of sugar, fats and salty foods.”

5. Limit alcohol

“Alcohol can cause intestinal damage. It is a toxin whose byproduct can damage DNA,” Chiu said. “The gut may develop inflammation, and the gut immunity is weakened. This can lead to colorectal cancer development.” Limit alcohol consumption to no more than one drink per day.

6. Do not smoke

Smoking increases the risk for colorectal cancer, Chiu said, because it causes DNA damage and inflammation in the intestine and lung. That can cause hypoxia, a condition in which there is insufficient oxygen at the tissue level, which in addition to DNA mutations, may cause aberrant cells to develop in the body and transform into cancer.

A 2020 German population study of more than 4,900 participants, published in the British Journal of Cancer, found that current smoking was associated with a 59% higher risk of colorectal cancer, and former smoking was associated with a 19% increased risk. The risk was not increased among those who stopped smoking more than 20 years prior.

Read a firsthand story about metastatic colon cancer on the Cedars-Sinai Blog: Staying in the Fight: Bobby Clark’s Cancer Story

Does nutritional supplement of dietary fibre prevent recurrence of precancerous polyps and cancer in the bowel in participants with a history of polyps having been removed to achieve a polyp-free colon at baseline for the intervention.

Colorectal (bowel) cancer is common worldwide but is especially prevalent in industrialised countries. Genes, diet and lifestyle all seem to be important in the development of bowel cancer. Several communities with low bowel cancer rates have diets that are rich in fibre. Increasing the levels of fibre in the diet in industrialised countries might therefore help to reduce the rate of bowel cancer.

Search Date

The evidence is current to 4 April 2016.

Study characteristics

Seven studies met the inclusion criteria. However, only five studies with 4798 participants provided data for this review. The mean ages of the participants ranged from 56 to 66 years. The participants all had a history of adenomas and would have had at least one procedure to remove them to achieve a polyp-free colon at baseline.The interventions in the included studies were wheat bran fibre, ispaghula husk, or a comprehensive dietary intervention with high fibre whole food sources used alone or in combination. These were compared to low-fibre (2 to 3 g per day), placebo, or a regular diet.

Key results

This review found that increasing fibre in a Western diet for two to eight years did not lower the risk of bowel cancer. Paradoxically, after four years participants receiving dietary fibre had higher rates of bowel cancer compared with the control group, with the absolute increase in risk being one percent.

Quality of evidence

The quality of evidence was low. The high risk of bias of included studies, small sample size, large number of missing data and the use of indirect measures gave us little confidence on the findings of this review.

There is a lack of evidence from existing RCTs to suggest that increased dietary fibre intake will reduce the recurrence of adenomatous polyps in those with a history of adenomatous polyps within a two to eight year period. However, these results may be unreliable and should be interpreted cautiously, not only because of the high rate of loss to follow-up, but also because adenomatous polyp is a surrogate outcome for the unobserved true endpoint CRC. Longer-term trials with higher dietary fibre levels are needed to enable confident conclusion.

This is an update of the Cochrane review published in 2002.

Colorectal cancer (CRC) is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in industrialised countries. Experimental evidence has supported the hypothesis that dietary fibre may protect against the development of CRC, although epidemiologic data have been inconclusive.

To assess the effect of dietary fibre on the recurrence of colorectal adenomatous polyps in people with a known history of adenomatous polyps and on the incidence of CRC compared to placebo. Further, to identify the reported incidence of adverse effects, such as abdominal pain or diarrhoea, that resulted from the fibre intervention.

We identified randomised controlled trials (RCTs) from Cochrane Colorectal Cancer’s Specialised Register, CENTRAL, MEDLINE and Embase (search date, 4 April 2016). We also searched and WHO International Trials Registry Platform on October 2016.

We included RCTs or quasi-RCTs. The population were those having a history of adenomatous polyps, but no previous history of CRC, and repeated visualisation of the colon/rectum after at least two-years’ follow-up. Dietary fibre was the intervention. The primary outcomes were the number of participants with: 1. at least one adenoma, 2. more than one adenoma, 3. at least one adenoma greater than or equal to 1 cm, or 4. a new diagnosis of CRC. The secondary outcome was the number of adverse events.

Two reviewers independently extracted data, assessed trial quality and resolved discrepancies by consensus. We used risk ratios (RR) and risk difference (RD) with 95% confidence intervals (CI) to measure the effect. If statistical significance was reached, we reported the number needed to treat for an additional beneficial outcome (NNTB) or harmful outcome (NNTH). We combined the study data using the fixed-effect model if it was clinically, methodologically, and statistically reasonable.

We included seven studies, of which five studies with 4798 participants provided data for analyses in this review. The mean ages of the participants ranged from 56 to 66 years. All participants had a history of adenomas, which had been removed to achieve a polyp-free colon at baseline. The interventions were wheat bran fibre, ispaghula husk, or a comprehensive dietary intervention with high fibre whole food sources alone or in combination. The comparators were low-fibre (2 to 3 g per day), placebo, or a regular diet. The combined data showed no statistically significant difference between the intervention and control groups for the number of participants with at least one adenoma (5 RCTs, n = 3641, RR 1.04, 95% CI 0.95 to 1.13, low-quality evidence), more than one adenoma (2 RCTs, n = 2542, RR 1.06, 95% CI 0.94 to 1.20, low-quality evidence), or at least one adenoma 1 cm or greater (4 RCTs, n = 3224, RR 0.99, 95% CI 0.82 to 1.20, low-quality evidence) at three to four years. The results on the number of participants diagnosed with colorectal cancer favoured the control group over the dietary fibre group (2 RCTS, n = 2794, RR 2.70, 95% CI 1.07 to 6.85, low-quality evidence). After 8 years of comprehensive dietary intervention, no statistically significant difference was found in the number of participants with at least one recurrent adenoma (1 RCT, n = 1905, RR 0.97, 95% CI 0.78 to 1.20), or with more than one adenoma (1 RCT, n = 1905, RR 0.89, 95% CI 0.64 to 1.24). More participants given ispaghula husk group had at least one recurrent adenoma than the control group (1 RCT, n = 376, RR 1.45, 95% CI 1.01 to 2.08). Other analyses by types of fibre intervention were not statistically significant. The overall dropout rate was over 16% in these trials with no reasons given for these losses. Sensitivity analysis incorporating these missing data shows that none of the results can be considered as robust; when the large numbers of participants lost to follow-up were assumed to have had an event or not, the results changed sufficiently to alter the conclusions that we would draw. Therefore, the reliability of the findings may have been compromised by these missing data (attrition bias) and should be interpreted with caution.

April 16, 2007 (Los Angeles) — Men who have had a potentially precancerous polyp removed during colonoscopy are more likely to develop new polyps than are women, a new study shows.

Obese people and those over age 65 are also at increased risk for having recurrent new growths that can lead to colon cancer, says researcher Adeyinka Laiyemo, MD, a cancer prevention fellow at the National Cancer Institute.

Laiyemo tells WebMD that doctors already knew that people who have three or more polyps removed are at significantly increased risk of developing new polyps. In fact, current guidelines, developed by the U.S. Multi-Society Task Force on Colorectal Cancer and the American Cancer Society, recommend that people with three or more polyps receive another colonoscopy within three years.

Colonoscopy a Powerful Prevention Tool

Though Laiyemo doesn’t suggest altering the guidelines based on one study, he says he hopes the findings will propel more at-risk people to get a colonoscopy in the first place.

“Men, in particular, never like going for the procedure. Women need to encourage their men to go,” he says

“After age 65, your risk really takes off, so it shows the importance of having colonoscopies as we age,” Laiyemo says. “And since obesity is a risk factor as well, it offers another reason to get those extra pounds off.”

Session moderator Alan Kristal, DrPH, of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, agrees.

“Colonoscopy is one of our most powerful tools for prevention because by having polyps removed, you can prevent cancer. This offers a nice overall package of factors that affect risk, telling us who should be targeted for surveillance,” he tells WebMD.

Men, Older People at Increased Risk

For the study, the researchers analyzed data from nearly 2,000 participants in the Polyp Prevention Trial, designed to assess the impact of a low-fat, high-fiber diet on polyp recurrence.

All the participants had at least one polyp removed before they started following the low-fat diet mandated in the study.

Over the next four years, 524 of the participants developed new polyps.

Results showed that:

  • People who had multiple polyps removed the first time around were 2.5 times more likely to have a recurrence than those who had one polyp removed.
  • Men were 76% more likely to have a recurrence than women.
  • People aged 65 to 69 were at 87% increased risk compared with younger adults; those aged 70 to 74 had four times the risk of younger adults.
  • Obese people were 55% more likely to have a recurrence than nonobese people.

The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Cancer Research.

Show Sources

SOURCES: Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research, Los Angeles, April 14-18, 2007. Adeyinka Laiyemo, MD, cancer prevention fellow, National Cancer Institute. Alan Kristal, DrPH, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle.

Add to favorites
Add to favorites

Colon cancer remains the #1 cancer killer for nonsmokers in the USA. Among Americans, the highest prevalence of colon cancer occurs among those of African descent. However, this is unlikely to be due largely to genes as the prevalence of colon cancer is about 13 times higher in African Americans than it is in Black rural South Africans. The far higher incidence of colon cancer for African Americans is likely associated with their far higher consumption of animal protein and fat, coupled with a much lower fiber consumption than found in the rural South African diet. Diets high in meat and fat and low in fiber lead to increased levels of colonic secondary bile acids, lower amounts of colonic short-chain fatty acids, and higher mucosal proliferative biomarkers of increased cancer risk in otherwise healthy middle-aged volunteers. To shed more light on how a typical American diet promotes the changes that are believed to lead to the development of colon polyps and colon cancer, a research team led by Dr. Brian O’Keefe at the University of Pittsburg performed a study that involved 2-week food exchanges in subjects from the same populations. In this study, a group of 20 African Americans were fed a high-fiber, low-fat African-style diet, while another group of 20 rural South Africans were fed a high-fat, low-fiber American-style diet. The researchers closely supervised what both groups ate for the next two weeks to assure good compliance with the two very different diet plans. The subjects of this study all underwent a colonoscopy exam before and then again two weeks after the diet swap. At the start of the study, nearly half the American subjects had polyps in their colons, but none of the South Africans had polyps. The majority of colon cancers arise from these precancerous polyps.

When the rural South Africans and African Americans adopted each other’s typical dietary habits, these dietary changes resulted in remarkable reciprocal changes in mucosal biomarkers of cancer risk. After just two weeks on the African diet, the American subjects’ colons showed a reduction in inflammation. In addition, the researchers observed that changes in the cells lining the colon were accompanied by major changes of gut bacteria or microbiota. The changes in these gut microbes are believed to have a major impact on the risk of developing inflammation and polyps, and eventually colon cancer. For example, the increase in saccharolytic fermentation and butyrogenesis observed when the Americans adopted the Africans’ diet resulted in suppressed secondary bile acid synthesis. These changes were observed in the African Americans within just two weeks after adopting the rural South African diet that was low in fat and animal products but high in whole plant foods. The reverse changes occurred in the rural South Africans who adopted the typical American diet for two weeks (1).

The results of Dr. O’Keefe’s recent study confirm and extend the findings of a study done decades ago by Dr. R. James Barnard at UCLA. Dr. Barnard and colleagues looked at changes in the amount of secondary bile acids in the stools of people who came to the Pritikin Longevity Center. Prior to attending Pritikin, 11 female subjects kept a 3-day food diary. One year after attending Pritikin, they filled out another 3-day food diary.The diaries showed that these women did a pretty good job of sticking with the largely unprocessed plant-based diet. According to their diet diaries, they maintained calorie intake at a slightly higher level (7% more on average) than while staying at Pritikin Center, but still significantly lower (by 34%) than their pre-Pritikin diaries. Their diets prior to their stay at the Pritikin Center contained 34% fat and 360mg of cholesterol or close to typical American diet norms at that time. Post-Pritikin, at one-year follow-up, calories from fat averaged only 14% of energy intake and daily dietary cholesterol intake dropped to only 88 mg. Fecal secondary bile acids were also significantly lower after attending Pritikin and these lower levels were also observed a year later. Not surprisingly, serum cholesterol levels were significantly lower at end of their 3 weeks at the Pritikin Longevity Center. But perhaps more importantly, their serum cholesterol levels were also lower a year later while following the diet at home, confirming that the subjects were likely still largely complying with a largely plant-based diet far lower in saturated fat and cholesterol than a typical American diet. These results suggested that switching from a typical American diet high in animal fat and cholesterol and low in fiber to a low-fat, high-fiber diet largely plant-based diet can reduce the excretion of secondary bile acids which are increasingly thought to be involved in the promotion of colon cancer (2).

Bottom Line: The results of these two studies show that if Americans switch from their typical modern diets and stick with a diet that is far lower in fatty animal products and cholesterol and composed largely of whole grains, vegetables, and fruits, then they will dramatically alter the microbiota of their colons and reduce the inflammation and other chemical changes that promote colon cancer.

How to alter your diet to avoid colon polyps

Most people know that a pink ribbon signifies breast cancer awareness, but do you know what the blue ribbon stands for? Colorectal cancer awareness, and since March is officially designated Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, it’s a time when we spread the word about how to lower your risk for the disease, including preventive screening options.

Dr. Fletcher points out a worrisome trend: The incidence of younger people being diagnosed with colorectal cancer has risen. “Colorectal cancer has been increasing in incidence, particularly in younger individuals less than 50, since the 1990s,” he states, adding that the “why” remains a mystery. “The exact reason for this increase is unknown, although there’s some suspicion that it has to do with our generally unhealthy American diets. In areas of the world where people eat differently, in particular less processed foods, this upward trend hasn’t been seen,” explains Dr. Fletcher.

Disease risk factors are usually broken up into two categories — those things you can change and those you cannot. “For instance,” shares Dr. Fletcher, “you are unable to change your genetic predisposition to colorectal cancer if you have a strong family history, or if you have other diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease, that increase your risk for colorectal cancer. You also cannot change the increased risk of getting the disease as you age.” He goes on to share that men are at higher risk for colorectal cancer than women, and white and black individuals are diagnosed with colorectal cancer more frequently than other racial groups.

Dr. Fletcher notes however, that there are quite a few important risk factors that individuals do have control over that impact their risk, including their weight — obesity is a major risk factor — an unhealthy diet, lack of physical exercise, tobacco use and significant alcohol consumption. “These modifiable risk factors are within people’s power to alter,” he says. “For example, diet changes we advise are increasing your fiber intake, steering clear of processed foods, lowering the amount of fat consumed, and eating plenty of fruits and vegetables.”

Multiple forms of screening for colon cancer exist, including colonoscopy, a brief procedure performed at the hospital while a patient is under sedation. During it, the surgeon inserts a thin, flexible tube with a tiny camera on the end of it into the rectum to examine the lower bowel for precancerous and cancerous growths known as polyps. Mission Hospital McDowell’s two talented surgeons, Dr. Roddenberry and Dr. Badger, are versed in performing colonoscopies, and their presence right here at MHM means that patients don’t have to travel far for this vital screening. “We are careful and thorough when we perform a colonoscopy, and as we assess the patient’s colon, we’re able to immediately and efficiently remove polyps should we find them,” says Dr. Roddenberry. “The preparation step that most people dread, which involves drinking the solution that clears your colon, is not as difficult to tolerate as in the past,” he adds, “but it is worth it, because the clearer our view of the colon is, the better able we are to see — and remove — any polyps.”

Dr. Badger echoes Dr. Roddenberry when speaking about the importance of testing and catching colorectal cancer early. “The ‘gold standard’ evaluation is a colonoscopy. With this screening, we can even find polyps and remove them before they begin growing cancerous cells, and it’s even more important to get one earlier if you have someone in your family who has had colon cancer,” she says, adding that it’s a topic that should never be overlooked in an appointment with one’s primary care provider.

Noninvasive stool-based testing methods include fecal immunochemical testing (FIT) and Cologuard ® . The FIT test looks for hidden (occult) blood in the stool, while Cologuard also identifies occult blood plus DNA changes that point to polyps and the presence of cancer. “Stool-based testing is good, but I typically recommend them to people who are either unwilling to get a colonoscopy or who have health conditions that limit their ability to have the procedure performed,” explains Dr. Fletcher. “In my opinion, most individuals should get a colonoscopy because it is both a screening test and a treatment. That is to say, if the physician performing the colonoscopy sees anything suspicious, they can remove it then and there.”

Dr. Fletcher also clarifies the sometimes confusing issue of when a person should receive their first colonoscopy and how often they should be screened. “At minimum, colonoscopies are started at age 50, and then done every 10 years. Frequency is a complex topic,” he declares, “because the individual risk factors a patient has, along with whether they have ever had polyps removed in a previous colonoscopy, can dictate whether a patient should receive the screening as frequently as yearly, or every three, five or ten years, which are more common recommendations.” Colonoscopy and colorectal cancer risk are routine topics Dr. Fletcher discusses with his patients during their annual physicals. “Colonoscopy is one of a group of cancer-related screenings I talk with my patients who are eligible about, as part of their overall wellness plan,” he says.

If someone is diagnosed with colorectal cancer in its very early stages, states Dr. Fletcher, treatment is often only surgical. “If the patient’s cancer is more advanced, doctors often use a combination of surgical removal, chemotherapy and potentially radiation. That said, the importance of catching a cancer early cannot be overstated, and is often the difference between life and death. This is why screening tests are so very critical, because they catch cancer in its earliest stages,” he cautions. Sadly, colorectal cancer is one where identifiable symptoms don’t appear until the condition is quite advanced. “Unfortunately,” says Dr. Fletcher, “treatment is much more difficult at this point, and often fatal.”

Asked about the message he feels is most important for people to understand about colorectal cancer, Dr. Fletcher revisits the sobering statistics. “This disease is very common, and very deadly, so it’s critical to take testing seriously,” he says. “As the third most common cancer in the United States that both men and women are diagnosed with, colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of death in men out of all cancers they are stricken with, and the third deadliest cancer in women.”

I appreciate our team’s advice and expertise on colorectal cancer this month. Remember that the COVID-19 pandemic is no reason to put off a colonoscopy. Those at higher risk for severe complications from COVID-19 should have a risk-versus-benefit conversation with their primary care provider. For most, the protocols we’ve put in place to keep patients and staff safe at all of our facilities ensure that the best care can continue to be delivered to our community.

How to alter your diet to avoid colon polyps

Carol Wolfenbarger, MSN, RN, FACHE, is Chief Executive Officer of Mission Hospital McDowell.