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Diet has been recognized as an important modifiable risk factor for colorectal cancer (CRC). In particular, diets consisting of high fats and carbohydrates, such as red and processed meats, are considered high-risk. Now, a large-scale cohort study among U.S. residents has revealed that high consumption of ultra-processed foods might increase CRC risk in men—the third most diagnosed cancer in the U.S.. 

For the past two decades, researchers have witnessed a significant increase in the consumption of ultra-processed foods, industrial ready-to-eat or ready-to-heat products high in refined sugars, refined starch, and trans fats. Ultra-processed foods currently contribute to 57% of the total daily calories consumed by American adults. A growing pool of evidence suggests that ultra-processed foods increase CRC risk by altering the composition and diversity of gut microbiota and increasing the risk of obesity.  Some examples of these foods include bread and rolls, breakfast bars and cereals, hotdogs and other processed meats, packaged sweet snacks and desserts, jams and jellies, and condiments, among other things.

The above-mentioned study analyzed responses from over 200,000 participants—159,907 women from the Nurses’ Health Study (1986-2015) and 46,341 men from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (1986-2014)—across three large prospective studies in the U.S. that assessed dietary intake. The follow-up period was between 24-28 years. At the time of study enrollment, none of the participants had any cancer diagnoses. Information on dietary intake, demographic characteristics, lifestyle factors, and medical conditions of the participants was obtained through food frequency questionnaires every four years. 

Of the 206,000 participants who were followed for more than 25 years, the research team documented 1,294 cases of CRC among men and 1,922 cases among women. The study findings indicated that those who consumed the highest amount of ultra-processed foods had a 29% higher risk of CRC compared to those with the lowest consumption. However, this was not observed among women. Among women, the risk of CRC was positively associated with higher consumption of ready-to-eat or ready-to-heat mixed dishes. In contrast, higher consumption of yogurt and dairy-based desserts was linked to a reduced risk of CRC among women. 

These findings support the importance of limiting certain types of ultra-processed foods for better health outcomes. Here are some additional resources on diet and lifestyle and how they can influence your colon health and overall wellness:

  1. Healthy Inside and Out: How Diet and Lifestyle Impact Colorectal Cancer
  2. Dietary Mindfulness Can Reduce the Risk of Colorectal Cancer
  3. Diet and Nutrition to Prevent Colon Cancer

 

Kitty Chiu is a Colorectal Cancer Prevention Intern with the Colon Cancer Foundation.

Image credit: Tim Toomey on Unsplash

Justin Adler is a Colon Cancer Foundation (CCF) Champion who lives in New York City. He works for a small SaaS (Software as a Service) company leading their strategic finance team. In addition to being involved with CCF, Justin coaches a football team and is a member of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York where he mentors a 9-year-old boy. He joined CCF in the beginning of 2022 as he hoped to be involved with something more personal.

CCF Champions started off as a young leadership council of the board—it has now evolved into a team of individuals with a personal or familial impact of colorectal cancer. The team meets on a monthly basis to discuss how best to support CCF’s mission of raising awareness around colorectal cancer from a board perspective, including leading and participating in the Foundation’s events.

One such event was  the annual Colon Cancer Challenge 5K Run/Walk during the Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month in March. Each Champion led their own team and fundraised individually. As a team, they also create social media campaigns. Recently, they partnered with DuClaw Brewing on their “Give A Crap” campaign to fundraise and share each champion’s personal story around colorectal cancer.

Justin was 8 years old when his mother passed away from colon cancer. Seeing at a young age how the disease affected his mom and their family, he is very keen to spread the word on the importance of early detection. Because his mother was not screened prior to her diagnosis, his main goal is to push the message of colorectal cancer screening. Justin notices that individuals without a family history of colorectal cancer are not as motivated to schedule a colonoscopy. They sometimes push it off until they are required to receive one, which could potentially be deadly for some. He emphasizes building a level of comfort around the topic, citing the “Give A Crap” challenge as an example, where they spoke openly about the elephant in the room.

Justin and the rest of the CCF Champions are always on a lookout for opportunities to partner with and help further colorectal cancer research and treatment through fundraisers and also spreading awareness.

 

Kenadi Kaewmanaprasert  is a Colon Cancer Prevention Intern with the Colon Cancer Foundation.

Brittney Waldrop 32, female, patient

How did you discover your diagnosis? How old were you at the time? Did you have symptoms? 

I was 31 years young when diagnosed. I went in for my first ever colonoscopy and they found one polyp that was cancerous. I had symptoms for about 5 years, but they were unfortunately overlooked by many doctors. I experienced extreme exhaustion; I could drink 8 cups of coffee a day and still go to sleep! I also occasionally had bloody stools, but they were bright red instead of the black they tell you to look for. Doctors kept saying that it was just hemorrhoids but didn’t look into it any further. If they did, maybe I wouldn’t be stage 4 at this point! It could’ve been caught sooner!

 

Did you have any prior knowledge about colon cancer before you were diagnosed? For instance, did you know about the symptoms and factors that lead to a higher risk of CRC? Did you know your family history?

I did not know anything and I do not have a family history of colon cancer.

 

Has your experience impacted your lifestyle? If so, what are some changes you’ve made?

Yes, it made me realize that life is short, and to live each day to the fullest! I’m weaker than I used to be, so I’ve been slowly trying to build my strength back up as well. 

 

It’s great that you’ve been taking the steps to regain your strength! Is there anything specific that you’ve been doing for this?

I have been walking, riding my stationary bike, reading my daily religion book, stretching and taking wheatgrass shots daily!

 

Is there someone or something that you have leaned on for support during this time?

Facebook support groups, my family & friends, and the hospital that I received care from.

 

What advice would you give to others who are experiencing the same situation as you?

Breathe, it’s going to be okay!

 

For more information related to colon cancer contact us today: www.coloncancerfoundation.org

A new law passed during the Indiana General Assembly’s 2020 session now requires insurance companies to cover colonoscopies at age 45 instead of the previously recommended 50. The law comes two years after the American Cancer Society modified their guidelines for colon cancer screenings.

In a study published in 2017 by the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, researchers found that from the mid-1980s through 2013, colorectal cancer incidence rates in adults age 55 years and older were declining while incidence rates for adults between the ages of 20 and 49 were increasing. It is speculated that the increase in colorectal cancer incidents in young adults is attributed to the fact that screenings were previously not recommended for those under 50.

Implications

It is estimated that there will be around 104,000 newly diagnosed cases of colon cancer and around 43,000 new cases of rectal cancer in the United States in 2020. Almost 18,000 of these cases are estimated to be diagnosed in adults younger than 50. The American Cancer Society estimates that among these numbers, 3,410 will be Indiana residents. Inspired by these statistics, the new Indiana law allows for cases to be diagnosed at an earlier age since screenings are now covered for those 45 years and older. Rep. Brad Barrett, who drafted the law, emphasized its benefits by explaining that insurance costs could potentially decrease if people are diagnosed at an early stage since “the cost of treatment will be less than if it had been caught at a later stage.” The five-year survival rate for colorectal cancer that has been detected early is 90%.

At the virtual American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) annual meeting in May/June 2020, promising results from the interim analysis of phase 3 data from the KEYNOTE-177 trial were presented during the plenary session. First-line treatment of a subset of patients with metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) with the immunotherapy drug pembrolizumab doubled the median progression-free survival (PFS) compared to patients treated with standard-of-care chemotherapy. This has now led to an FDA approval for the drug.

Trial Results

KEYNOTE-177 was designed as a global, multicenter, open-label, active-controlled, randomized trial that compared treatment of 307 previously untreated patients with microsatellite instability-high (MSI-H) or mismatch repair deficient (dMMR) mCRC. Mismatch repair is an inherent property of cells that allows them to correct DNA replication errors, and dMMR cell lack this process, resulting in mutations in the DNA. dMMR cells with alterations in short, repetitive DNA sequences are called MSI-H.  Patients were randomized to receive first-line pembrolizumab alone at 200 mg every 3 weeks for up to 2 years or investigator’s choice chemotherapy: FOLFOX (fluorouracil [5-FU], leucovorin, and oxaliplatin) or FOLFIRI (5-FU, leucovorin, and irinotecan) every 2 weeks, with or without bevacizumab or cetuximab.

This was a crossover trial, meaning patients on chemotherapy could cross over to receive pembrolizumab for up to 35 cycles if their disease had progressed. Primary end points were PFS and overall survival (OS); objective response rate (ORR) was the secondary endpoint.

Median PFS was 16.5 months in the pembrolizumab group and 8.2 months in the chemotherapy group. Pembrolizumab showed a 40% reduction in the risk of disease progression (P=0.0002); PFS rates were 55% vs 37% for pembrolizumab vs chemotherapy, respectively, at 12 months, and 48% vs 19%, respectively, at 24 months. ORR were 43.8% and 33.1%, respectively. While the median duration of response was 10.6 months for chemotherapy (2.8-37.5 months), it had not been reached with pembrolizumab (2.3-41.4 months). Complete responses were achieved in 11.1% and 3.9% patients receiving pembrolizumab vs chemotherapy, partial responses were achieved in 32.7% vs 29.2%, respectively.

Only 22% of patients in the pembrolizumab arm had treatment-related adverse events (TRAEs) compared to 66% in the chemotherapy arm. One TRAE death was reported in the chemotherapy arm.

The study is ongoing and OS data are expected to be presented at a later time.

FDA Approval

The above results have led to the FDA approval of pembrolizumab in previously untreated patients with MSI-H/dMMR mCRC. Importantly, this is the first immunotherapy to receive FDA-approval as first line of care in this patient population.

You can help significantly decrease your chances of colorectal cancer through proactive action related to your diet.

Maintaining a Healthy Weight Helps Prevent Colon Cancer

One of the best things you can do is to get yourself to a healthy weight and maintain it within a designated range. By maintaining a healthy weight you won’t just be proactively protecting yourself from colon cancer, you’ll also be making an investment in your overall health.

What to Eat to Beat Colon Cancer and Help Prevent it

Some of the best foods to be eating to lower your chances of contracting colon cancer include, chicken, fish, fruits, and whole grains.

Foods that you should avoid eating in excess include red meats and anything that is rich in refined sugars.

The Link Between Obesity and Colon Cancer

A strong link has been identified between obesity and colon cancer. Diet choices have a profound impact on how susceptible you are to contracting colon cancer.

It’s important to remember that making healthy choices with what you eat and how much affects much more than your susceptibility to contracting colon cancer. Your diet affects your overall health. It’s also important to remember that portion size is just as important as the food that you choose to eat. You can eat red meat without increasing your chance of getting colon cancer if you do it in moderation.

Someone who enjoys a steak every couple of weeks or so for dinner with a salad is not going to have a particularly high risk of getting colon cancer. Conversely, someone who eats steak, pork, sausage, and bacon in large quantities every single day or even every other day, will greatly increase their chances of having colon cancer.

Eating red meats in small amounts and in limited frequency is perfectly fine. No one needs to be panicking about eating a steak every now and again. No matter what you eat, your portion size is vital. Larger portion sizes are unhealthy and will put weight on fast.

You shouldn’t commit to a healthy diet just to decrease your chances of contracting colon cancer, you should want to eat healthy to feel better about yourself and increase your overall health. If you exercise and maintain a healthy diet, you won’t just be limiting your chances of getting colon cancer. You will feel better, and eliminate your susceptibility to countless other health problems.

How Does a Poor Diet Increase Your Chances of Contracting Colon Cancer?

Some of you might be wondering exactly how a poor diet increases your chances of contracting colon cancer. Obviously foods that are rich in fats aren’t good for you, but why does such delicious food have to make you more susceptible to such a horrible disease?

Studies have shown that when mice were fed a diet consisting of foods that were high in fats, they exhibited aggressive cell growth of stem-like cells that encourage mutation. This aggressive cell growth is typically coupled with the development of cancerous tumors along the intestine.

The unfortunate mice who were tested offer us invaluable insights into the factors that affect one’s chances of developing colon cancer. Their sacrifice, while trivial compared to the totality of scientific inquiry, is significant and it can save lives, human lives.

Further Recommendations

With so much information out there on the internet, it can be difficult to distinguish genuinely useful information from inaccurate drivel. For example, fiber supplements and antioxidant vitamins do not reduce one’s chances of having colon cancer, nor does it affect polyps.

Calcium, on the other hand, does have an effect on polyps and helps reduce polyp recurrence. Another thing that can help you is regular exercise. If you’re going to make the effort to maintain a healthy diet, you should double down and add exercise to the mix.

By exercising, eating healthy, and consuming the recommended amount of calcium, you can reduce your chances of contracting colon cancer significantly. Although these lifestyle changes can give you much better odds, it’s still imperative that you schedule regular screenings. If you aren’t being screened for colon cancer, you can still contract if and all of your efforts will be for naught, especially if it isn’t detected early on, hence the importance of regular screenings.

 

 

 

 

 

Seventeen organizations from across the globe – who individually have made a significant impact in the fight to end colorectal cancer – are joining together in solidarity #atadistance to let their collective communities know that even in the wake of a global pandemic they are unified in and fiercely committed to saving, improving, and extending the lives of millions at risk for or living with the world’s third cancer killer.
‎#InThisTogether‎, #AllInThisTogether

On Tuesday, June 9th, these organizations will collectively celebrate and lift up the over 4.6 million colorectal cancer survivors around the world and reach out to the thousands who are newly diagnosed every day to offer a message of hope.

Colorectal cancer hasn’t stopped for COVID-19. “We know patients and caregivers affected by this disease need our support now more than ever.”Cindy Borassi, Colon Cancer Foundation, “And, we are here to help those most affected by CRC navigate cancer in the weeks and months to come.”

 AliveAndKickn                                                          Aliveandkickn.org

Beat Liver Tumors                                                    beatlivertumors.org

Blue Hat Foundation                                                bluehatbowtie.org

Colorectal Cancer Canada                                      colorectalcancercanada.com

Colon Cancer Coalition                                            coloncancercoalition.org

Colon Cancer Foundation                                       coloncancerfoundation.org

Colon Cancer Prevention Project                           coloncancerpreventionproject.org/

Colon Cancer Stars                                                  colonstars.org

Colorectal Cancer Alliance                                      ccalliance.org

Colontown                                                                 colontown.org

Fight Colorectal Cancer                                           fightcrc.org

GI Cancers Alliance                                                  GICancersAlliance.org

Michael’s Mission                                                     michaelsmission.org

Minnesota Colorectal Cancer Research Foundation  minnesotacolorectal.org

The Raymond Foundation                                       TheRaymondFoundation.org

The Colon Club                                                         colonclub.org

The Gloria Borges WunderGlo Foundation    wunderglofoundation.org

 

If you have recently had a colorectal cancer diagnosis or need a screening, learn more about financial assistance programs that may alleviate some of your medical bills. The Blue Hope Financial Assistance program helps low-income individuals reduce the burden of testing and treatment costs.

The Blue Hope Financial Assistance program offers low-cost screenings for colonoscopies and FIT tests, $300 stipends to assist with screenings or $200 to help with colorectal cancer treatment costs.

To qualify for a low-cost colonoscopy, you must be uninsured or underinsured and have a total income below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines. To be eligible for a stipend, you must be uninsured or underinsured and have a total household income of less than $75,000. If you have received assistance from the program in the past, you may not apply again.

The program does not exclude applicants based on age or genetic factors, so encourage your loved ones to apply if they qualify for the Blue Hope Financial Assistance program.

Learn more about the Blue Hope Financial Assistance program and apply at the Colon Cancer Alliance. Discover more resources on financial assistance and get the tools and support you need online.

Additional resources:

https://www.cancercare.org/financial_assistance

https://www.panfoundation.org/index.php/en/patients/assistance-programs/colorectal-cancer

https://www.ccalliance.org/patient-family-support/financial-assistance-programs

 https://www.cancer.org/content/cancer/en/treatment/support-programs-and-services/patient-lodging/hope-lodge.html

https://www.cancerandcareers.org/en

 https://www.allysonwhitney.org/grants/

https://www.cancersupportcommunity.org/resources

 https://www.patientadvocate.org/explore-our-resources/national-financial-resource-directory/

 

When it comes to colorectal cancer, various factors affect your risk for developing this deadly disease, including your ethnicity. African Americans are more likely to develop colorectal cancer at a younger age than Caucasian or Hispanics.

 

Why are African Americans More Likely to Develop Colorectal Cancer?

Multiple factors affect one’s likelihood of developing colorectal cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute, African Americans are more likely to have a predisposition to colorectal cancer due to genetic makeup. Mutations in the KRAS gene, which affect a cell’s ability to repair errors in DNA replication, are more abundant in African Americans. 

 

Are African-Americans Less Likely to Get Screened for Colorectal Cancer?

African Americans are less likely to get screened for colorectal cancer, which is attributed to an increase in colorectal cancer mortality rates. According to recent research, medical mistrust may contribute to a decrease in screenings for African Americans. 

 

How Can I Convince My Friends to Get Screened?

Ask your friends if they are abiding by the recommended screening guidelines. The American Cancer Society recommends starting screenings at 45-year-old for those with normal risk. Learn more about colorectal cancer screenings and get tested today.

 

Colon cancer, also known as colorectal cancer, is the second deadliest cancer in the United States. While the cancer often affected those over 50-years-old in the past, colon cancer is increasing in young adults at an alarming rate. Learn more about why early-onset colon cancer is on the rise for those under the age of 50 and what you can do to combat the deadly cancer.

 

How Many People Will Develop Colon Cancer in 2019?

According to the American Cancer Society, there will be 145,600 new cases of colon cancer this year. Fifty-one thousand and twenty deaths are predicted to happen due to this disease. Young adults will contribute to these numbers, despite decreasing rates of colon cancer in those over 50-years-old.

 

What Factors Have Lead to an Increase in Colon Cancer in Adults?

One of the most significant factors in colon cancer increasing in young adults is the lack of screening. Until recently, the American Cancer Society recommended that standard screening starts at 50-years-old if you do not have a family history of colon cancer or other risk factors. However, they changed their screening recommendations to start at 45-years-old to accommodate for the higher risk of colon cancer in young adults.

One of the significant concerns with early-onset colon cancer is the amount of time between the diagnoses and treatment; this can often lead to a higher fatality rate for those that do not discover they have the deadly disease. If you have any questions or concerns about colorectal cancer screenings, reach out to your primary doctor.

 

What Can I Do to Reduce My Risk?

If you are worried about colon cancer, learn more about early-onset colon cancer. Convince your loved ones to get screened at 45-years-old if they are at average risk and earlier if they have a family history of colon cancer.