Dr Yousuf Ali al Mulla
Everyone has heard about the cancer, which attack human bowel and usually develops and progress from premalignant lesion to an invasive type of cancer, known as colorectal cancer.
In fact, this type of cancer, is usually associated with genetic factors or gene mutation, but environmental exposure including the diet and inflammatory conditions affecting the digestive tract, participate in the development of such type of cancer.
Worldwide, colorectal cancer is the second most common cancer in women (614,000 cases, 9.2 per cent of all cancers) and the third most common in men (746,000 cases, 10 per cent of the total).
From different studies and I would say that age is noted as a well-known risk factor for colorectal cancer, as it is for many other solid tumours. Known that, I have expressed that the timeline for progression of early premalignant lesion to malignant cancer ranges from 10-20 years and here the median age at diagnosis is around 68 years. Unfortunately, the annual mortality rate per 100,000 people from colon and rectum cancer in Oman has increased by 17.2 per cent since 1990, an average of 0.7 per cent a year!
Certainly, these risk factors contributed to, and were thought to be responsible for, an estimated 52.9 per cent of the total deaths caused by colon and rectum cancer in Oman during 2013.
Currently, studies have indicated that a diet too rich in red meat is associated with a heightened risk of colorectal cancer. “Red meat” is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as “all mammalian muscle meat, including beef, veal, pork, lamb, mutton, horse, and goat.”
A study of north Italian populations showed that individuals who eat red meat on a frequent basis had an almost twice higher risk of developing rectal or colon cancer than their peers who favoured a plant-based diet. On the other hand, it was found that a daily increase of 100 grams of all meat or red meat is associated with a significant 12–17 per cent increased risk of colorectal cancer.”
I have expressed more details here about the lifestyle and diet, as obviously can be reversible, hence it might help in avoiding the development of such type of cancer if we consider it is complicated, however the damage caused by unwholesome diets made the headlines again in early 2018, when a study published in The BMJ reported that “ultra-processed foods” might increase the risk of developing various types of cancer.
Beside that new evidence led the WHO to classify processed meats as “carcinogenic to humans.
A study from the Loma Linda University in California found that vegetarian-style diets are linked to a decreased risk of colorectal cancer. The researchers studied four types of plant-based diet. These were:
Vegan, or strictly no products of animal origin;
Lacto-ovo vegetarian, which includes dairy and eggs but no meat;
Pescovegetarian, which includes fish but no meat;
Semivegetarian, which includes meat and fish infrequently;
Research published last year in JAMA Oncology suggests that a diet high in sources of fiber may improve survival rates for patients with stage one colorectal cancer. Eating whole grains was also linked to a better treatment outcome, the researchers noted.
Another study from last year notes that eating a minimum of 2 ounces (approximately 57 grams) of tree nuts — such as cashews, hazelnuts, walnuts, and pistachios — almost halved the risk of colon cancer recurrence for individuals following stage three cancer treatment. Tree nut consumption also reduced the risk of death following treatment by 53 per cent.
Ultimately, I would conclude that: Each of us should be aware and consider that lifestyle, unlike genetic traits, is somewhat modifiable.
Each individual should consider colorectal cancer prevention test, like colonoscopy which is usually done every 10 years, beginning at age 50 years.
For patients who decline colonoscopy or another cancer prevention test, the preferred cancer detection test is FIT, can be conducted annually.
My message to you, revamping of your personal health choices may go a long way towards supporting positive outcomes.
Dr Yousuf Ali al Mulla, MD, is practicing at Oman’s Ministry of Health. He is medical innovator and educator,
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