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Preventing Colorectal Cancer Naturally?

March 21, 2011 Written by JP    [Font too small?]

In the vast majority of cases, cancer doesn’t develop quickly. A tumor doesn’t just appear out of nowhere. Rather, it forms through a complex set of circumstances that are affected by aberrant cellular changes, growth factors, hormonal influences, increased blood flow and inflammation. Technically speaking, carcinogenesis is “largely comprised of three phases: initiation, promotion and progression”. Medical researchers are keenly interested in understanding the process behind the formation of malignancies because it’s far more preferable to interfere with the genesis of cancer than to try and destroy it once it’s fully formed.

Many people are familiar with the process I described above because they’ve undergone a colonoscopy. The primary reason why colonoscopies are recommended as frequently as they are is because physicians hope to find precancerous polyps before they turn malignant. Researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago are investigating yet another avenue that may prevent the occurrence of colorectal cancer in the first place: through the use of curcumin supplements.

Curcumin is an antioxidant derivative (polyphenol) of the Indian spice turmeric. If you’ve ever had curry, you’ve had turmeric/curcumin. A current study appearing in the journal Cancer Prevention Research assessed the impact of giving oral curcumin supplements to 44 smokers with a prior history of aberrant crypt foci (ACF) and adenomas – precursors to colon polyps or fully formed polyps. Over the course of 30 days, half of the smokers were administered 2 grams/day of curcumin and the remainder was provided with 4 grams/day. The results found in the 4 gram/day participants were dramatic: there was a 40% reduction in the number of ACFs or pre-polyps. More good news: both dosages of curcumin were characterized as well tolerated. (1)

Curcumin May Interfere with Various Stages of Cancer Growth

Source: World J Gastrointest Oncol. 2010 April 15; 2(4): 169–176. (link)

This isn’t the first time that curcumin has been associated with a protective effect against colorectal cancer. However, one of the potential stumbling blocks to using curcumin is the relatively large dosage (up to 8 grams/day) needed to induce therapeutic activity. One possible way around this dilemma is to combine curcumin with other herbal extracts and nutrients. Coltect is a “novel dietary supplement” which consists of a blend of three natural ingredients: curcumin, green tea extract and selenium. A trial published in September 2010, reports that Coltect is capable of promoting cell death or apoptosis in colon cancer cells and reduces the incidence of polyps in rats receiving the supplement alone or in conjunction with a conventional antiinflammatory drug (5-aminosalicylic acid). A daily dose of Coltect consists of 2,000 mg/day of curcumin, 1,000 mg/day of green tea and 400 mcg/day of selenomethionine – a form of selenium, the trace mineral. It is currently under evaluation for other conditions including irritable bowel syndrome and ulcerative colitis in human subjects. (2,3,4,5)

The research presented above is just the latest promise exhibited by this prized turmeric extract. What’s exciting to me about the current discoveries is that a manageable and safe dosage of curcumin, 4 grams/day, appears to be an effective way to discourage the growth of precancerous polyps. If further studies using curcumin alone or combined with green tea, selenium and/or other “nutraceuticals” support these findings, it could save countless lives each year. The numbers could be staggering when you consider that the most recent estimates are that 39,000 new diagnosed cases of colorectal cancer are expected in 2011 in the US alone. In curcumin, we have a traditional culinary ingredient that may very well stem the tide of new cases of the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths. (6,7)

Note: Please check out the “Comments & Updates” section of this blog – at the bottom of the page. You can find the latest research about this topic there!

Be well!


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Posted in Alternative Therapies, Nutritional Supplements

16 Comments & Updates to “Preventing Colorectal Cancer Naturally?”

  1. David Emerson Says:

    Curcumin helps prevent colorectal cancer, among others, while boosting brain, blood, heart, and stomach health-


    David Emerson

  2. Dr Synonymous Says:

    Thanks for the encouraging information. Nature has a way of helping us if we study it effectively and believe our findings. Pat, MD

  3. JP Says:

    Thank you, David and Pat. Much appreciated.

    Be well!


  4. Liverock Says:

    Anybody buying loose curcumin at the local grocery store should be aware that in all probability it will not have been tested for heavy metal contamination. Mostly curcumin comes from third world countries and unless the store can provide a certificate of heavy metal testing I would not buy loose curcumin. Curcumin used in reputable GMP certified supplement manufacturers has been tested and can be bought in confidence.

  5. JP Says:


    I agree. That’s an important point. Any food or supplement that comes from contaminated land has the potential to do much more harm than good.

    I think it’s a great idea to contact manufacturers and ask them about heavy metal testing and other quality control measures they employ to ensure a safe product. As consumers, we should participate in ensuring this is the case. If manufacturers know that we’re interested in quality control, and it affects our buying decisions, better quality products will almost certainly populate the shelves of health food stores and markets the world ’round.

    Be well!


  6. Bill Kaper Says:


    Great advice! It’s amazing how nature provides preventative measures to us by which we can live long and healthy lives. Too often we (Americans) look at health and medicine as a reactive exercise, when we really should be looking at it as a proactive exercise. Healthier foods, anti-oxidants, and maintaining a healthy weight are all crucial to improving longevity and vitality.


  7. JP Says:

    I agree 100%, Bill. Being proactive is key in almost all things. We all have the power. All we need is the information and the opportunity to apply it. Every step in that direction helps, IMO.

    Be well!


  8. John Rigby Says:

    I drink two cups of “Sencha” green tea daily, it is probably the strongest of green tea there is, one cup will actually make 1 litre, but I don’t diute it, I just drink it from the normal cup size. I also take Curcumin vegie caps X4000 water soluble, and I also take resaveratol which is found in red wine. I have incurable bowel cancer, and after nine hrs of surgery, and 7mths chemotherapy, these are part of the things that I do. Best Wishes, John.

  9. JP Says:

    Thank you for sharing your protocol with us, John. I hope this approach helps you to reestablish true health. I wish you all the best also.

    Be well!


  10. JP Says:

    Updated 08/25/15:


    Dig Dis Sci. 2015 Aug 20.

    Frequent Use of Antibiotics Is Associated with Colorectal Cancer Risk: Results of a Nested Case-Control Study.

    BACKGROUND: Microbiotical dysbiosis induced by a Western diet seems to be associated with an increased risk of developing colorectal cancer (CRC). Few other factors with an effect on the colonic microbiota and their association with CRC have been evaluated.

    AIM: We investigated whether the use of antibiotics is associated with CRC risk.

    METHODS: Data on the use of antibiotics and comedication were extracted from a health insurance database for subjects with a diagnostic-related group for CRC between 2006 and 2011 and four age- and sex-matched controls. Antibiotic use was categorized according to the number of prescriptions during a 5-year follow-up period (1-6 years prior to CRC). Multivariable conditional binary logistic regression analysis was used to estimate odds ratios (ORs) and 95 % confidence intervals (95 % CIs) for different levels of use.

    RESULTS: A total of 4029 cases (47 % male, mean age at diagnosis 71 ± 11 years) and 15,988 controls were included. Antibiotics had been prescribed to 2630 (65.3 %) cases and 10,234 (64.0 %) controls (p = 0.13). An increasing use of antibiotics was associated with an increasing risk of CRC [multivariable OR for high (≥8 prescriptions) vs. no prescriptions: 1.26, 95 % CI 1.11-1.44, p-trend <0.01]. For each increase of 5 prescriptions, the OR for CRC was 1.05 (95 % CI 1.01-1.09).

    CONCLUSION: We found an association between the use of antibiotics, especially when used frequently, and the risk of developing CRC. Further studies are needed to establish under which conditions the use of antibiotics increases the risk of developing CRC.

    Be well!


  11. JP Says:

    Updated 09/19/15:


    Public Health Nutr. 2015 Sep 16:1-11.

    A dose-response meta-analysis reveals an association between vitamin B12 and colorectal cancer risk.

    OBJECTIVE: The current meta-analysis evaluated the association between vitamin B12 intake and blood vitamin B12 level and colorectal cancer (CRC) risk.

    DESIGN: The PubMed and EMBASE databases were searched. A dose-response analysis was performed with generalized least squares regression, with the relative risk (RR) and 95 % CI as effect values.

    SETTING: The meta-analysis included seventeen studies.

    SUBJECTS: A total of 10 601 patients.

    RESULTS: The non-linear dose-response relationship between total vitamin B12 intake and CRC risk was insignificant (P=0·690), but the relationship between dietary vitamin B12 intake and CRC risk was significant (P<0·001). Every 4·5 μg/d increment in total and dietary vitamin B12 intake was inversely associated with CRC risk (total intake: RR=0·963; 95 % CI 0·928, 0·999; dietary intake: RR=0·914; 95 % CI 0·856, 0·977). The inverse association between vitamin B12 intake and CRC risk was also significant when vitamin B12 intake was over a dosage threshold, enhancing the non-linear relationship. The non-linear dose-response relationship between blood vitamin B12 level and CRC risk was insignificant (P=0·219). There was an insignificant association between every 150 pmol/l increment in blood vitamin B12 level and CRC risk (RR=1·023; 95 % CI 0·881, 1·187).

    CONCLUSIONS: Our meta-analysis indicates that evidence supports the use of vitamin B12 for cancer prevention, especially among populations with high-dose vitamin B12 intake, and that the association between CRC risk and total vitamin B12 intake is stronger than between CRC risk and dietary vitamin B12 intake only.

    Be well!


  12. JP Says:

    Updated 09/24/15:


    Cancer Causes Control. 2015 Sep 21.

    Association between magnesium intake and risk of colorectal cancer among postmenopausal women.

    PURPOSE: Data relating to magnesium intake and colorectal cancer (CRC) risk in postmenopausal women are incomplete. We investigated the association between total magnesium intake and the risk of CRC in an ethnically diverse cohort of postmenopausal women enrolled in the Women’s Health Initiative.

    METHODS: Self-reported dietary and supplemental magnesium were combined to form total magnesium intake. Invasive incident CRC was the primary outcome. Cox proportional hazard models were used to estimate hazard ratios (HRs) and 95 % confidence intervals (CI).

    RESULTS: During an average follow-up of 13 years (1,832,319 person-years), of the 140,601 women included for analysis, 2,381 women were diagnosed with CRC (1,982 colon cancer and 438 rectal cancer). After adjustment for potential confounding variables, an inverse association was observed in the highest quintile of total magnesium intake compared to the lowest quintile for risk of CRC (HR 0.79, 95 % CI 0.67, 0.94, p trend < 0.0001) and colon cancer (HR 0.80, 95 % CI 0.66, 0.97, p trend < 0.0001). A borderline significant inverse association was detected in the highest versus the lowest quintile of total magnesium intake for rectal cancer (HR 0.76, 95 % CI 0.51, 1.13, p trend < 0.001). CONCLUSIONS: Findings from this study support the hypothesis that magnesium intake around 400 mg/day from both dietary and supplemental sources is associated with a lower incidence of CRC in postmenopausal women. Be well! JP

  13. JP Says:

    Updated 10/03/16:


    Br J Nutr. 2016 Oct;116(7):1275-1287.

    Flavonoid intake from vegetables and fruits is inversely associated with colorectal cancer risk: a case-control study in China.

    Flavonoids may play an important role in the protective effects of vegetables, fruits and tea against colorectal cancer. However, associations between flavonoids and colorectal cancer risk are inconsistent, and a few studies have evaluated the effect of flavonoids from different dietary sources separately. This study aimed to evaluate associations of flavonoids intake from different dietary sources with colorectal cancer risk in a Chinese population. From July 2010 to December 2015, 1632 eligible colorectal cancer cases and 1632 frequency-matched controls (age and sex) completed in-person interviews. A validated FFQ was used to estimate dietary flavonoids intake. Multivariate logistical regression models were used to calculate the OR and 95 % CI of colorectal cancer risk after adjusting for various confounders. No significant association was found between total flavonoids and colorectal cancer risk, with an adjusted OR of 1·06 (95 % CI 0·85, 1·32) comparing the highest with the lowest quartile. Anthocyanidins, flavanones and flavones intakes from total diet were found to be inversely associated with colorectal cancer risk. Compared with the lowest quartile, the adjusted OR for the highest quartile were 0·80 (95 % CI 0·64, 1·00) for anthocyanidins, 0·28 (95 % CI 0·22, 0·36) for flavanones and 0·54 (95 % CI 0·43, 0·67) for flavones. All subclasses of flavonoids from vegetables and fruits were inversely associated with colorectal cancer. However, no significant association was found between tea flavonoids and colorectal cancer risk. These data indicate that specific flavonoids, specifically flavonoids from vegetables and fruits, may be linked with the reduced risk of colorectal cancer.

    Be well!


  14. JP Says:

    Updated 12/10/16:


    Br J Nutr. 2016 Dec 7:1-11.

    Supplementation with Brazil nuts and green tea extract regulates targeted biomarkers related to colorectal cancer risk in humans.

    Se and green tea have been shown in epidemiological, observational and preclinical studies to be inversely related to the risk of developing colorectal cancer (CRC). However, there are limited studies to evaluate their regulatory effects on genes/proteins that relate to CRC oncogenesis in human subjects, such as selenoproteins, WNT signalling pathway, inflammation and methylation. This study examined the effects of supplementation of Se using Brazil nuts and green tea extract (GTE) capsules, alone and in combination, on targeted biomarkers. In total, thirty-two volunteers (>50 years of age) with plasma Se≤1·36 µmol/l were randomised to one of three treatment groups: nine to Se (approximately 48 µg/d) as six Brazil nuts, eleven to four GTE capsules (800 mg (-)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate) and twelve to a combination of Brazil nuts and GTE. Blood and rectal biopsies were obtained before and after each intervention. Plasma Se levels, rectal selenoprotein P (SePP) and β-catenin mRNA increased significantly in subjects consuming Brazil nuts alone or in combination, whereas rectal DNA methyltransferase (DNMT1) and NF-κB mRNA were reduced significantly in subjects consuming GTE alone or in combination. None of the interventions significantly affected rectal acetylated histone H3 or Ki-67 expression at the protein level or plasma C-reactive protein. Effects of the combination of Brazil nuts and GTE did not differ from what would be expected from either agent alone. In conclusion, supplementation of Brazil nuts and/or GTE regulates targeted biomarkers related to CRC oncogenesis, specifically genes associated with selenoproteins (SePP), WNT signalling (β-catenin), inflammation (NF-κB) and methylation (DNMT1). Their combination does not appear to provide additional effects compared with either agent alone.

    Be well!


  15. JP Says:

    Updated 04/21/17:


    Int J Cancer. 2017 Apr 20.

    Coffee consumption and the risk of colorectal cancer by anatomical subsite in Japan: Results from the HERPACC studies.

    Consumption of coffee, a popular beverage worldwide, has been associated with lower colorectal cancer (CRC) risk. Although CRC exhibits different biological characteristics by anatomical subsite, the possibly heterogeneous impact of coffee on CRC by anatomical subsite has remained unclear. Here, we conducted two case-control studies to examine the association between coffee consumption and CRC risk as well as risk by anatomic subsite among Japanese using data from the Hospital-based Epidemiological Research Program at Aichi Cancer Center I and II (HERPACC-I and II). Subjects were enrolled in HERPACC-I between 1988 and 2000 and in HERPACC-II between 2001 and 2005. Coffee consumption was measured with a self-administered questionnaire. A conditional logistic regression model was used to calculate odds ratios (ORs) of CRC with coffee consumption, adjusted for potential confounders of age, smoking, alcohol drinking, red meat intake, BMI, exercise, family history of CRC, and diabetes mellitus history. We estimated summary ORs by pooling study-specific ORs with a fixed effects model. In total, 2,696 CRC cases and 13,480 non-cancer outpatients as controls were included. Overall, compared to non-drinkers, ORs of less than 1 cup/day, 1-2 cups/day and 3 or more cups/day for CRC were 0.88 (95%CI:0.77-1.00), 0.90 (95%CI:0.80-1.01) and 0.78 (95%CI:0.65-0.92), respectively (trend-P=0.009). Subsite-specific analysis revealed a significant inverse linear trend between coffee consumption and distal colon cancer (P-trend=0.048), and a tendency toward a lower risk of rectal cancer (P-trend=0.068). These findings suggest that coffee consumption might impact the prevention of CRC, especially distal colon cancer.

    Be well!


  16. JP Says:

    Updated 01/15/19:


    Eur J Cancer Prev. 2019 Jan 10.

    Effects of fish oil supplementation on eicosanoid production in patients at higher risk for colorectal cancer.

    Fish oil supplementation may represent a potential chemopreventive agent for reducing colorectal cancer risk. The mechanism of action of fish oil is unknown but presumed to be related to eicosanoid modification. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of fish oil supplementation on the levels of urinary and rectal eicosanoids. We conducted a randomized, double-blind, controlled trial of 2.5 g of fish oil per day compared with olive oil supplementation over a 6-month period. Study participants had a history of colorectal adenomas. Randomization was stratified based on the gene variant rs174535 in the fatty acid desaturase 1 enzyme (FADS1), which affects tissue levels of arachidonic acid. A total of 141 participants were randomized. Urinary prostaglandin E2 metabolite (PGE-M) was measured at baseline, 3, and 6 months and rectal prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) at baseline and 6 months. Repeated-measures linear regression was used to determine the effect of the intervention on each outcome measure. Overall, fish oil supplementation was found to reduce urinary PGE-M production compared with olive oil (P=0.03). Fish oil did not reduce rectal PGE2 overall; however, it did significantly reduce PGE2 in the subgroup of participants not using aspirin or NSAIDs (P=0.04). FADS1 genotype did not seem to modify effects of fish oil on PGE2 production. We conclude that fish oil supplementation has a modest but beneficial effect on eicosanoids associated with colorectal carcinogenesis, particularly in those not taking aspirin or NSAIDs.

    Be well!


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