In all Westernized countries, colorectal cancer is among the deadliest tumors you can get. This story isn’t about how you eat to cut down the risk, because that much is well known. More whole grains, less meat, fewer fatty foods, and alcohol in moderation are shields against colorectal cancer.
Instead, this story is about people who have colorectal cancer or used to have it. Few studies had focused on how diet could help stop the tumor from recurring, and help the patient in surviving. But in the past few years, researchers have looked more and more at the eating patterns of people with colon cancer.
That includes people with (or who have had) a very serious condition: stage III colon cancer. At that point, the tumor has spread to the lymph nodes, and from there runs the risk of spreading anywhere. Still, in such dire situations, food could still play a major role in influencing a patient’s chance of survival. Also, food could help dictate whether cancer will recur in someone who has successfully treated it.
One way of eating can be described as “Western.” Its focus is a touch unhealthy, and includes refined grains, sweets, fatty foods, and red and processed meats. A much more powerful way to eat for disease protection is to fill your plates with fruit, legumes, vegetables, fish, poultry and whole grains.
Can eating one way be powerful enough to influence something as serious as colorectal cancer? As studies of people undergoing chemotherapy have shown, it most certainly can. Patients who tend to maintain a more Westernized diet, with the less healthy foods, tend to have a far greater risk of cancer returning to their body if chemotherapy was successful. What’s more is that they are also at significantly greater risk of dying from cancer.
The flip of the coin is a bit different. People who follow a healthy diet, with lots of produce and other nutrient-rich items, don’t really influence their cancer recurrence or survival. So, in the end, it is actually about what you don’t eat, rather than what you do eat. Colon cancer survivors who don’t eat lots of processed and fatty foods have greater protection against recurrence.
It’s about limiting certain foods. A diet light in (or preferably void of) red meat, refined grains, and sugary snacks is one solid step that colon cancer patients can take to improve their outlook. And when one has been diagnosed with cancer and has experienced chemotherapy, these sorts of steps are an easy lifestyle change to make. Mix it together with regular exercise, and you are doing a lot to help create your own cancer shield.