Do probiotics play a part in a colon cancer diet? Yes, but they are only one part of a complex pattern. Poor food choices increase the risk factors for colon cancer.
One of the major causes of death in most parts of the developed world is colon cancer. Diet has been proven, at least in animal studies, to play an important role in this disease. Many researchers suspect that the results of those studies will prove just as correct in man. This is hardly surprising. Our modern diet and the excesses we indulge in, play a huge role in the gastrointestinal cancers.
You'll see that many of the foods we are advised to limit are foods that contain no probiotics at all. Converely, the foods we are advised to increase are the ones that do supply lactic acid bacteria and probiotics.
There has to be a message in that!
Limit the amount of red meat you eat. Almost all of the research indicates that eating too much red meat increases the risk factors for colon cancer. A large group provided information on their meat intake back in 1982. They were studied over the next twenty years to assess the risks associated with the long-term eating of meat. The findings: "that prolonged high consumption of red and processed meat may increase the risk of cancer in the distal portion of the large intestine."1 That same study indicated that the long-term consumption of fish and poultry was inversely associated with the risk of both proximal and distal colon cancer.
So excessive red meat and processed meat - bad: chicken and fish - good. Find out more about the connection between red meat and cancer.
Limit the amount of animal fat you eat. Reduce your TOTAL fat content on your colon cancer diet too. Choose oils that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as fish and flax seed. Choose monounsaturated oils such as olive oil.
Limit the amount of trans-fatty acids you eat. A 2008 study on colon cancer prevention showed a direct relationship between the eating of trans-fatty acids and colorectal tumours.7 The study used the information gathered on 622 people who had a complete colonoscopy and found that the risk increased by around 86% between the group that ate the most trans fats and the group that ate the least.
Trans fat is found naturally in milk and the body fat of beef and lamb but most of it is man-made and comes from partially hydrogenating plant oils. So if you're wanting to avoid them - which you should be - look for the words "partially hydrogenated oils" on product packaging and leave that food choice on the supermarket shelf.
In our modern diet we get the most of our trans fats from fast foods, commercial baked goods such as pies, pastries, pizza dough, biscuits, and cookies, commercial snack foods and French fries. The trans fat is in the partially hydrogenated oils used in these industries.
And the food industry loves them. They extend shelf life and improve flavor. Once upon a time, commercial bakers used butter (trans fat making up 4% of the total fat) whereas nowadays they are use shortenings which may contain 30% trans fat compared to total fats.
According to the American Heart Association you should eat less than 1 percent of your total daily calories as trans fats. That means if you eat 2,000 calories a day, no more than 20 of those calories should come from trans fats which means less than 2 grams of trans fats a day.
The average person would get that amount in naturally occurring trans fats which leaves virtually no room for industrially manufactured trans fats.
For years, we've been told so often to eat lots of fibre that I think everyone is convinced it is necessary for bowel health. However, the latest research has shown that it is not. There were a number of inconclusive studies so yet another was done to try and clarify things. They concluded that total dietary fibre was not associated with colorectal cancer risk, whereas whole-grain consumption was associated with a modest reduced risk.2
Increase the amount of fruit and vegetable you eat. When it comes to fruit and vegetables, color is what you should be looking for. Make that dinner plate or salad bowl just as bright and colorful as you can. Garish is good when it come to food!
Make it a rule that at every meal you have lots of red and green on your plate. Throw in any other color that takes your fancy but the red vegetables and the green vegetables are what will give you good colon health and are an important part of a colon cancer diet.
Before we started taking supplements, we got our probiotics and lactic acid bacteria from our food. Fruits and vegetables as close to their natural state as you can manage will provide some, fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut will add to your supply, as will fermented dairy produce. If you feel you need more then take a good source of probiotics such as Iflora Multi-Probiotic.
Divide your plate into four. Your meat should cover only one quarter of the plate, the carb portion (potatoes, rice, pasta) should cover another quarter, and then vegetables or salad should cover the remaining two quarters. What so often happens is that we end up with a plate of meat and carbs with a token green leaf for decoration.
I know that I'm not saying anything you haven't heard and read a hundred times before. That's what makes it so complex. We do already know what we need to eat - it's just that our modern tastebuds have got so used to the meat and fats, the fast foods and the corner pastry shop, that healthy food is often seen as in some way depriving ourselves.
Think back to our days as hunter/gathers to get on to the right track.
Now you may be thinking - ahh, hunters -that means meat, surely. You'd be right, but ask yourself this - was it a pre-stuffed, hygienically wrapped chicken, bred to put on weight at exactly so many grams per day? You know it wasn't. It was a lean turkey without an ounce of surplus fat and we'd spent half the day running it down! We deserved that stringy old bird!
But where do probiotics fit into this colon cancer diet, you ask?
Firstly, be aware that probiotics are not some miracle cure for the gastrointestinal cancers.
To quote one of the experts in this field "there is no direct experimental evidence for cancer suppression in humans as a result of the consumption of probiotic cultures in fermented or unfermented dairy products, but there is wealth of indirect evidence based largely on laboratory studies." (emphasis is mine)3
It seems to me that if we're serious about preventing colon cancer then we should take this evidence on board. It is believed that up to 75% of the cases of colon cancer are associated with diet.3
Keep in mind that much of this evidence is from animal studies and that the composition and metabolic activities of the gut microflora of animals is different from ours.4
Lactobacillus GG which is found in Culturelle has been found to prevent putative preneoplastic lesions or tumours induced by carcinogens.5
Modern methods of both preparing and preserving foods mean we no longer eat the same amount of beneficial bacteria. And whilst we may prefer to keep modern standards of hygiene, it has never been simpler to eat probiotic rich foods or take probiotic supplements to keep those all important gastrointestinal bugs happy.
REFERENCES for Colon Cancer Diet
1. Chao A, Thun MJ, Connell CJ, McCullough ML,Jacobs EJ, Flanders WD, Rodriquez C, Sinha R, Calle EE. Meat consumption and risk of colorectal cancer. Journal of the American Medical Association 2005 Jan 12:293(2):172-82
2. Schatzkin A, Mouw T, Park Y, Subar AF, Kipnis V, Hollenbeck A, Leitzmann MF, Thompson FE. Dietary fiber and whole-grain consumption in relation to colorectal cancer in the NIH-AARP Diet and Helath Study. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition Vol 85 No 5 1353-1360 May 2007
3. Rafter J. Probiotics and Colon Cancer. Best Practice & Research Clinical Gastroenterolgy Vol 17, issue 5 October 20003 pp 849-859
4. Hirayama K, Itoh K, Takahashi E, Mitsuoka T. Comparison of composition of faecal microbiota and metabolism of faecal bacteria among 'human-flora-associated' mice inoculated with faeces from six different human donors. Microbial Ecology in Health and Disease 8 1995 pp 199-211
5. Goldin BR, Gualtiera LJ, Moore RP. The effect of Lactobacillus GG on the initiation and promotion of DMH-induced intestinal tumours in the rat. Nutrition in Cancer 25 1996 pp 197-204
6. Abdelali H, Cassand P, Soussotte V, et al. Effect of dairy products on initiation of precursor lesions of colon cancer in rats. Nutr Cancer 1995:24 pp121-132
7. Vinikoor LC, Schroeder JC, Millikan RC, Satia JA, Martin CF, Ibrahim J, Galanko JA, Sandler RS. Consumption of trans-fatty acid and its association with colorectal adenomas. Am J Epidemiol. 2008 Aug 1;168(3):289-97. Epub 2008 Jun 27.