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March 2, 2011, last updated June 14, 2016

By Louise Carr, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist

Bowel cancer is the third most common cause of cancer-related
death in the United States. It's the third leading cause of cancer
among men and, among women, it's the second leading cause
of cancer deaths, behind breast cancer.

According to the American Cancer Society, there are 143,000
new cases of the disease each year and the National Cancer
Institute says 51,370 people die from bowel or colon cancer
annually. In England, 38,000 new cases are diagnosed and an
estimated 16,000 people die from bowel cancer each year.

Serious stuff, right? But many people are embarrassed to find
out about and seek help for bottom-related symptoms.
Ignorance is a major danger.

Just what is bowel cancer? What causes bowel cancer and can
bowel cancer be prevented? Bowel cancer, also called
colorectal cancer or colon cancer, is any cancer affecting the
large bowel (colon) and the back passage (rectum). Bowel
cancer occurs when a growth on the wall of the bowel
becomes cancerous and multiplies into a tumor. How can you
help reduce your risk? Which natural remedies and lifestyle
changes can help to reduce your risk for bowel or colon cancer?

What are the Symptoms of Bowel or Colon Cancer?

If you have any of the following bowel cancer symptoms for
more than six weeks, visit your doctor. Symptoms of colon or
bowel cancer include bleeding from the bottom, going to the
toilet more frequently or having looser stools for many weeks,
abdominal pain, a lump in the stomach,
weight loss and

Most of these symptoms are also signs of other conditions and
probably will not be bowel cancer – for example, bleeding from
the bottom along with soreness, lumps and itchiness is a sign
of piles (hemorrhoids) – but to be safe, get checked out.

Here's the good news.
If bowel cancer is caught early it can be
treated successfully in 90 percent of cases.
Even after
diagnosis, 95% of men and 100% of women will be alive 5
years after a diagnosis of Stage 1 bowel cancer, according to
Cancer Research UK.  

However, i
f left untreated, cancer cells can travel to the liver,
lungs and other parts of the body and can be fatal.

What are the Causes of Bowel or Colon Cancer?

As with many other cancers, experts still don’t know exactly
what causes bowel cancer. But certain risk factors play a part
in the risk you have of getting the disease. For bowel cancer,
these include a high intake of alcohol, a diet high in saturated
fat and processed meat, lack of exercise, obesity and smoking.

Who is Most Likely to Suffer From Bowel Cancer?

Although bowel or colon cancer is becoming more common in
younger people, you are more likely to suffer from the disease
when you are older. In fact, according to the UK’s National
Health Service, 80 percent of bowel cancer cases develop in
people aged 60 or over. According to Prof. Jonathan Rhodes,
consultant gastroenterologist, the average age when bowel
cancer is first discovered is 65. You are also more likely to
suffer from colon cancer if you have a close family member
who suffered from the disease, or if you already suffer from
inflammatory bowel problems.

How can you lower your risk? Beat the cancer before it takes
hold with regular colon and bowel cancer screening. The
American Cancer Society recommends screening for men and
women starting at age 50. We’ve looked out the natural
remedies and lifestyle changes that can also help cut your
bowel cancer risk.

Top 10 Natural Remedies for Colon Cancer

1. Limit Your Consumption of Red Meat to Cut Bowel Cancer

Red meat has its health critics, not least those that link excess
red meat consumption with cancer. Red meat can be part of a
healthy diet but according to the UK’s Scientific Advisory
Committee on Nutrition, who published recommendations in
we should be limiting the amount of red meat we eat to
three slices of ham, one lamb chop or two slices of beef (or
equivalent) a day to reduce our risk of bowel cancer. That boils
down to 70g a day.

The World Cancer Research Fund recommends us to limit red
meat consumption to 500g a week (71 g per day) of cooked
meat. That is approximately 1.1 pounds of cooked meat. The
cancer-creating suspects are certain substances in red meat,
particularly a compound called "haem" that gives the meat its
color. Haem is said to damage the lining of the colon.

The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition also advises us
to remove
processed meats completely from our diet – cutting
out processed meat could prevent 3,800 cases of bowel cancer
a year in the UK, the charity claims.

New research has found that, if you add certain types of
starches to your diet called "
resistant starches", you can block
many of the negative health effects of eating red meat.

Cut Back on Your Alcohol Intake to Reduce Bowel Cancer

Bowel or colon cancer is linked to heavy intake of alcohol. A
2007 study from the European Prospective Investigation into
Cancer and Nutrition published in the International Journal of
Cancer found the equivalent of one
large glass of wine a day
increases the risk of bowel cancer by 10 percent and two or
more glasses by 25 percent.

The study looked at 478,732 adult volunteers from 10 western
European countries and quizzed them on how much alcohol
they currently consumed and how much they had consumed
over their lifetime.

Guidelines recommend sticking to one
small drink a day for
women or two small drinks a day for men – not only to cut
bowel cancer risk but the risk of many other cancers too.

A Healthy Diet Helps Prevent Bowel Cancer

Sometimes old advice is good advice. You can lower your risk
of colon cancer by changing your diet.

According to a 2010 study from the Institute of Cancer
Epidemiology, Danish Cancer Society and Aarhus University,
Denmark sticking to recommendations for physical activity,
waist circumference, smoking, alcohol intake and diet may
significantly reduce bowel cancer risk. These guidelines were
based on a lifestyle index used in a healthcare setting.

In the 2010 study, 23 percent of the cases of bowel cancer
may have been attributed to lack of adherence to these
guidelines. The study looked at 487 men and women aged 50
to 64 years not previously diagnosed with cancer.

A diet high in fiber, fruit and vegetables helps stop you
developing bowel cancer. The European Prospective
Investigation of Cancer, started in 1992, produces reports on
diet and lifestyle and concluded people who ate the most fiber
in their diet had a 40% percent lower risk of bowel cancer than
those that ate the least fiber. (Read more about

But Multivitamins Don’t Alter Your Risk of Dying From Colon

It seems the vitamins need to be from fruit and vegetables and
not a capsule. A 2010 study from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
found people with colon cancer who took multivitamins after
surgery had no significant difference in their risk of the cancer
coming back, or dying from colon cancer. Around 30 percent of
US patients take multivitamins to treat cancer, the Institute
reports, but there is no statistically significant difference
between them and people that skip the pills.

Take Aspirin to Prevent Colon Cancer?

You could cut your risk of developing and dying from colon
cancer by taking a simple pill – daily low-dose aspirin. So says a
2010 study led by the University of Oxford in England. The
study looked at the results of four clinical trials regarding
aspirin intake, concentrating on colon cancer deaths.

Incidences of colon cancer were reduced by 24 percent and
deaths by 35 percent after 20 years’ follow-up. However, the
American Cancer Society urges caution – even aspirin at low
doses can increase the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding.

Regular Exercise Helps Prevent Colon Cancer

It’s never too late – or too early – to get into the exercise habit.

A 2010 study from the Siteman Cancer Center at Washington
University School of Medicine and Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St.
Louis found consistent exercise is linked with a lower risk of
dying from colon cancer.

The study found those who had exercised consistently for more
than 10 years had the lowest risk of colon cancer death. Even if
your childhood was less than active, start now. Get your heart
rate raised for at least 30 minutes, five times a week.

Exercise, in fact, is more important even than family history in
predicting your colon cancer risk. In a 2000 study from the
University of Utah Health Sciences Center, 13% of colon cancer
was  attributed to being physically inactive, 12%  to eating a
Western style diet (too much sugar, refined carbohydrates and
red meat and too little fiber and vegetables), and 8% of colon
cancer to having a first degree relative with colorectal cancer.

Exercise also will help you keep to a healthy weight - leaner
people are less likely to develop bowel cancer than obese
people. A 2010 study from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester found
obese patients with colon cancer are at greater risk of dying
from the disease or of colon cancer recurring than those within
a healthy weight range.

For example, men in the highest body mass index category
were 35 percent more likely to die from the disease. Obesity is
a strikingly high risk factor for developing other forms of
cancer, too.

Omega-3 Helps Prevent Bowel Cancer…

A 2010 study from St James's University Hospital, Leeds, UK
discovered a purified form of one omega-3 fatty acid reduces
the number and size of precancerous bowel growths in people
at high genetic risk of bowel cancer. Researchers gave 2mg a
day of eicosapentaenoic acid or EPA to 28 out of 55 patients
with an inherited mutation that predisposes them to developing
precancerous growths in the bowel. The number of growths
fell by more than 12 percent and the size of growths by 12.5
percent among the EPA patients.

…But High Doses of Fish Oil are Linked to an Increased Risk
of Colon Cancer

Omega-3s aren’t a simple supplement to figure out. According
to a 2010 study from Michigan State University, high doses of
fish oil led to increased incidence of colon cancer in mice.

Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to benefit the body but
researchers suggested people with inflammatory bowel
diseases and those at high risk of developing colon cancer
should limit their intake of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an
omega-3 fatty acid found in fish oil. If you’re already receiving
enough omega-3 fatty acids from your food (primarily oily fish
like salmon) you will not need supplementation, according to
the researchers.

Soy May Help Prevent Colon Cancer

Often hailed as a super food, soy may also help prevent colon
cancer. Researchers from the Children's Hospital & Research
Center, Oakland in 2009 found therapeutic agents in soy that
may protect against the disease. Sphingadienes, natural lipid
molecules, help cause the death of mutant cells such as cancer
cells. Further research is needed to discover the best way to
deliver these compounds to the body and if they are also
beneficial in fighting other cancer but in the meantime, soy
seems a good bet for overall health.

Milk Helps Prevent Bowel Cancer?

Are you getting enough? A 2011 study from University of
Otago Medical School, New Zealand claims children given a daily
half-pint of milk for more than six years were 40 percent less
likely to develop bowel cancer in later life. The study looked at
562 adults with bowel cancer and 571 age-matched controls
without cancer, and whether they had drunk free milk at
school. Free school milk was available in most schools in New
Zealand until 1967.

A 2005 study from Stockholm's Karolinska Institutet and the
Central Hospital in Vasteras, Sweden found high intakes of
conjugated linoleic acid, a type of fat found in cow's milk, is
linked with a significantly lower risk of bowel cancer.

Middle-aged women who were regular drinkers of high-fat milk
were around 30 per cent less likely to develop the disease.

However, before you rush out to buy extra liters of milk, a
word of caution is in order.  Other risk factors for bowel cancer
were not considered in the New Zealand study, such as obesity,
smoking and alcohol.

Plus, a UK study actually found childhood milk drinking raised
bowel cancer risk. High fat milk is associated with a higher risk
of developing other cancers, such as breast cancer. Milk is
worthy of further study.

Curcumin May Be Beneficial for Beating Bowel Cancer

Research is ongoing into whether curcumin, a natural
substance found in the spice turmeric, helps prevent bowel
cancer and stops cancers growing and returning. Cultures that
use turmeric a lot in cooking – it is popular in curries – seem to
have low incidences of bowel cancer and studies suggest
curcumin may stop bowel cancer cells growing.

A clinical trial looking at curcumin to help prevent bowel cancer,
supported by Cancer Research UK, the National Cancer
Research Network and St Mark's Hospital and University
Hospital of Leicester, UK, is ongoing.

If curcumin is effective in lowering colon cancer, one would
expect that countries such as India, in which curry is a featured
part of the cuisine, to experience low rates of colon and bowel

And indeed, that is exactly the case.  As a 1999 study from the
Division of Digestive Diseases and Nutrition of the Tata
Memorial Hospital, Mumbai noted, "The incidence rates of both
large and small bowel cancer are low in India."


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Bowels -3 Keys to Normal Bowels

Exercises That Increase Bowel Movements

Normal Waist Size for Women and Men

Urine Color --What It Means

Bowel Movements-Best Clue to Your Health






















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Curried food can help to lower your risk of
bowel and colon cancer, studies show.
Robin Gibb of the BeeGees dies of colon cancer
on May 21, 2012 at the age of 62.
Limit your intake of red meat to less than 70 gr (2.5
ounces) each day to decrease your risk for colon
cancer. This burger has twice your daily limit of red