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Colon Cancer

Dr. R. Lee Clark has seen a great many patients with colon cancer. As the President Emeritus of M.D. Anderson Hospital and Tumor Institute, Dr. Clark remembers well the long lines of patients who have filled hallway chairs daily. Dr. Clark has advice for anyone who wants to reduce their chances of getting cancer.

In an interview with members of the Cancer Control Society, Dr. R. Lee Clark said, “Certain [natural minerals] definitely can help to prevent cancer.”

The Biology of Cancer

Colon cancer ranks second as the leading cause of cancer-related deaths. This particular type begins as an uncontrolled growth of cells lining either the large intestines or the rectum. Often, such uncontrolled cellular growth in the lower bowel develops within an intestinal polyp—a usually benign growth. If the polyp cells become exposed to certain chemicals, however, they can proliferate at an alarming rate until becoming malignant.

The presence of malignant cells in the intestinal lining represents the formation of a carcinoma. A patient with an intestinal carcinoma generally is informed by the oncologist that he or she has colon cancer. Such a person may not have considered the chemical triggers that can interrupt the normal process of cell division.

Certain chemical carcinogens, many of which are in modern, treated foods, have chemical strictures allowing them to “slip into” various spaces on a strand of DNA. When the DNA contains chemicals that do not belong in a cell’s genetic material, the DNA often loses its ability to control the speed and direction of cell division. The cell then exhibits erratic and uncontrolled growth.

Testing for Cancer

Of course, even individuals who maintain a lifestyle adhering to the above recommendations should still receive regular tests for colon cancer once they reach the age of 50. A colonoscopy gives physicians a method for detecting malignant intestinal cells. The colonoscopy uses a camera lens to examine cells within the large intestine.

Likewise, a sigmoidoscopy can detect malignant cells in the rectum, but not in the rest of the bowels. However, a fetal occult blood test (FOBT) neither confirms nor disallows the presence of colon cancer. The FOBT should be used in combination with either a colonoscopy or a sigmoidoscopy.

While the above tests are best used to help with detecting colon cancer early, their use becomes of primary importance if a patient presents other, serious complications. Especially dangerous symptoms to watch out for include:

  • Prolonged diarrhea or constipation
  • Bloody in your bowel movements
  • Unexpected anemia
  • Abdominal pain
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Oddly narrow stools

Each of these conditions may prompt your physician to order a series of tests for the possibility of colon cancer.

Fortunately, doctors no longer need to watch for the above signs to check for evidence of cancer in someone’s colon. Biochemists have discovered a protein that is present in the cells of most intestinal carcinomas. That chemical is carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA).

A doctor can arrange for a laboratory test measuring the amount of CEA in a patient’s blood. If the CEA level is high, the doctor will likely recommend a colonoscopy. By first testing a patient’s CEA, a doctor can more likely detect cancer before it advances to stage III or stage IV. This helps the patient avoid the option of taking powerful chemotherapeutic drugs that often bring just as much misery as “therapy”.

Diet to Help Prevent Colon Cancer

Cells within a benign growth such as a polyp seem especially sensitive to chemical carcinogens. However, a well-planned diet can reduce if not eliminate the amount of carcinogens reaching the colon cells.

The elimination of carcinogens should be supplemented with other dietary changes as well. Avoidance of fried foods is wise because frying breaks down fatty acids, thereby creating chemicals interfering with normal cell growth. Drinking soft drinks is not wise either because the chemicals in them can severely harm the adrenal glands and pancreas.

Instead, start adopting a diet consisting of organic foods like raw, unprocessed vegetables and fresh fruits, whole-wheat pastas and breads, lean meats (preferably poultry and fish), a variety of nuts and grains, and plenty of purified water to keep your body hydrated.

Still, prevention of colon cancer (or any kind) cannot be guaranteed to those who choose not to implement positive lifestyle changes. People who try to remain stress-free, who exercise frequently, who get plenty of sunlight (with precautions, of course), and who receive plenty of sleep have the best chance for discouraging the development of cancer in the lower bowel region.

Actually, many health problems can be avoided by taking preventative, proactive steps related to lifestyle. For example, if cancers can be caused by carcinogens, why put cigarette smoke (with its thousands of ingredients), alcohol, or dangerous drugs into your system? Especially if your family is already predisposed to develop cancer, you can minimize your risk by mitigating harmful products and environments from your life. Don’t give colon cancer an open door for attacking your health or even your life. Take good care of your body and it will do its best to fight off illness and disease.

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