Can Consuming fiber prevent Colon Cancer?

Cancer is a deadly disease and can happen at any age, today we will study if consuming fiber foods can prevent Colon cancer.

According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer research, about 20% of people in the world develop cancer during their lifetime. According to an estimate globally, 12.5% of men and 9% of women die from cancer. About 2.25 million people in India suffer from the disease.

Cancer can happen in any section of the body. This is usually due to the uncontrolled growth of cells. This growth of cells does not allow the body to function normally. Cancer can be treated successfully. The prevalence of cancer before the age of 75 in Indians is 9.81% and the death rate is 7.34%.

There are many types of cancer. Cancer can occur in the lungs, breast, colon and even in our blood. In some ways, all cancers are the same, although the way they grow and spread is different. There are a large number of cases of head and neck cancer caused by tobacco in India. Mouth, cervical, breast and colon cancers are the most common types of cancer found in India. Although India has fewer cases of colon cancer than western countries, it is the seventh-largest cause of death. It is estimated that there are more than 50,000 patients with colon cancer in the country.

How does colon cancer occur?

The colon and anus are the lower parts of our digestive system. These are the lower part of the intestine which absorbs water from the stool and helps to keep it stored until the bowel is discharged. Colon cancer is produced by an increase in the precancerous polyps (abnormal tissues) originating in the rectum or colon. Earlier, colon cancer used to happen to people above 50 years of age. However, in the past decade, there has been a sharp increase in the cases of this among the youth. About 35% of colon cancer patients are under 40 years of age. Therefore, colon cancer can be treated well if detected in time.

Colon and rectal cancer (CRC) accounts for one-third of cancer cases worldwide and are among the leading causes of death. Although genetic (hereditary) cause may also be the major cause of colorectal cancer, such cases are rarely seen. Much of this type of cancer is largely attributed to environmental causes that are commonly found in Western lifestyles, such as obesity, inactive lifestyles, eating a high-calorie diet with too much red meat and a low-fibre diet, smoking and alcohol consumption.

Some of the symptoms of colon cancer include fatigue, weakness, changes in bowel habits, diarrhoea, constipation, bloodstains in the stool, abdominal cramps, and sudden weight loss along with bloating. These are some signs that should never be ignored. The above mentioned symptoms can also be a sign of other stomach related diseases, but it is good to get an early checkup so that the possibility of colon cancer can be prevented.

What is the relation between fibre and colon cancer?

There are many ways to reduce colon cancer deaths, such as general screening of people (for early detection of cancer), genetics advice and improvement in environmental factors, drug abuse, reducing smoking and alcohol. Increasing the amount of fiber and reducing the amount of meat in the diet.

To increase fiber in the diet means to include in our food the things that our body cannot digest. Fats, proteins and carbohydrates are foods that the body digests but the fiber cannot digested. Instead, it passes through the stomach, small intestine and colon and finally exits the body.

There has been a lot of research on the role of dietary fiber in the prevention of deaths from colorectal cancer in the last 5-6 decades. Many earlier studies and their meta-analyzes have shown conflicting results about the advantages or disadvantages of fiber in the treatment or prevention of colorectal cancer, although most have shown beneficial results. There are many benefits due to fiber. A diet with high fiber increases stool and the stool gets out of the body easily and quickly (which causes constipation). Due to this, there is a less potential exposure of the cells of the large intestine to carcinogenic.

What do studies say about fiber and colon cancer?

Some studies have shown that fiber diets promote ‘apoptosis’ (immediate death of old and degraded cells) that inhibit the growth of cancer cells. High-fiber diets, especially cereals and coarse grains, are also indirectly effective in preventing colorectal cancer by improving insulin sensitivity, reducing obesity, reducing inflammation in the body, reducing bad lipids, etc. By improving all these, it increases the chances of survival even after getting colo-rectal cancer.

Fiber also contains an important compound called butyrate, whose fermentation modulates the tumour microenvironment . Butyrate accumulates in the center of cancer cells where genetic material is stored. It inhibits the growth of cancer cells.

Many studies have shown that not every fiber is as good at preventing cancer. Fiber from cereals and coarse grains is better at reducing colorectal cancer than fruits, vegetables, or oats. These reduce type 2 diabetes mellitus and heart disease as well as reduce the death rate. The exact reasons for this are not known, but it may be due to the excess fiber found in them.

Except for a few studies, most of the earlier studies have shown their beneficial effects, but no definitive evidence has been found in favour of fiber. Many investigators find that these results are biased because personal thinking and too many confounding factors also have an impact on these studies. However, many recent better studies have also revealed the benefits of fiber.

A prospective study published in JAMA Oncology in 2018 showed a reduction in mortality by giving a high-fiber diet to a patient with colorectal cancer. Also, data are now being collected in a long-term EPIC study (European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition). The study was conducted on about half a million people in 10 European countries. These were monitored for 15 years (1999 to 2015). Followup measurements and lifestyle exposures were submitted to the IARC.

Apart from preventing colon cancer, a diet with high fiber can have other benefits as well. It helps in reducing cholesterol levels. Foods like beans, oats, flaxseed and oat bran can help reduce the total cholesterol levels in the bloodstream by lowering the levels of “bad” cholesterol. It can also help reduce blood pressure and inflammation. It helps in controlling the level of sugar in the blood of diabetes patients. Soluble fibers can reduce the absorption of sugar and thus they can help maintain the correct levels of sugar in the blood. Taking a diet with insoluble fiber may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. Further studies show that increasing the amount of fiber in the diet reduces the risk of dying of cancer as well as heart diseases.

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