Cancer or Rain­bow Meal? DE­CIDE!

Oman Daily Observer - - CU LTURE - 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 plant­based 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 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, If read­ers have any queries re­gard­ing the con­tent in the col­umn, he can be con­tacted at: dryus­u­fal­[email protected] in­cludes

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