Part 2 of 3 Part Series
Get your vitamin D3 levels checked regularly (see blood levels in table below). This vitamin is not really a regular vitamin, but is actually a hormone which influences our genes, including cancer genes.
There have been studies linking low blood levels of vitamin D with an increased risk of colorectal cancer, as well as other cancers. One such study using a technique known as meta-analysis (statistically derived data), revealed that by raising serum levels of vitamin D to 34 ng/ml, the incidence rates of colorectal cancer could be reduced by half. Even higher levels of serum vitamin D further reduced the risk of colorectal cancer. Researcher Edward Gorham, Ph.D stated “We project a two-third reduction in incidence with serum levels of 46 ng/ml, which corresponds to a daily intake of 2,000 IU of vitamin D3. This would be best achieved with a combination of diet, supplements and 10 to 15 minutes per day in the sun”.
How can we obtain good preventative doses of vitamin D?
We get vitamin D primarily from adequate sun exposure, best obtained during the hours of 10 am to 3 pm.
Food sources of vitamin D are in oily fish, cod liver oil, liver, eggs and dairy products. However, getting enough vitamin D to prevent cancer can be extremely difficult. A supplement of vitamin D3 every day is a good idea. You will need to take at least 1000 IU. If your vitamin D levels are very low, you may need more like 5000 IU per day. So get your levels checked a couple of times per year as a precaution.
Lower Limit of Vitamin D
Upper Limit of Vitamin D
Celiac disease and true gluten intolerance, if not properly identified and resolved, can cause chronic inflammation and a compromised immune system. Chronic inflammation and a compromised immune system are risk factors for cancer.
You can have a blood test to find out if you are gluten intolerant. It is called the HLA DQ Genotype test. If you are gluten intolerant, eliminating gluten from your diet will go a long way to reducing gut inflammation and reducing your risk of developing intestinal-related cancer.
Gluten is found in many common grains such as wheat, kamut, farro, durum, bulgar, semolina, rye, oats and barley. Most baked goods and pastas contain one or more of the offending grains. Gluten free foods are now more readily available than ever before, so choose the healthiest version of gluten free goods you can. A word of warning though, many pre-packaged and processed gluten free foods are still way too high in sugar content, and would not be a healthy option, if you are trying to reduce your risk of any type of cancer. So watch out for those.
For more information about gluten, read my book “Is Gluten making you sick or fat?”
Lung cancer is not the only cancer that is associated with smoking. Research has shown that long-term smokers are more likely to die from colorectal cancer than non-smokers. To decrease your risk of developing colon and bowel cancer, it is important to “put out” those cigarettes and cigars, and quit altogether. There are no health benefits to be gained by smoking. None! If you find it difficult to quit, your family health care professional can help you with this. There are gums, sprays, patches and pharmaceutical drugs like Champix, Prexaton and Zyban, which may help in the process of giving up. Smoking is, for many, an addiction that proves very difficult to leave behind, once and for all. Some people may need psychological assistance to finally quit. Clinical hypnotherapy and other forms of addiction modification behavioral therapies may prove to be useful in this case.
There is some evidence linking the consumption of alcohol and colorectal cancer, as well as other cancers. Studies have indicated that this link affects both men and women, but tends to affect more men. The meta-analysis studies also link the consumption of larger amounts of alcohol with a higher risk of developing cancer. Although it is not fully understood why this link exists, we do know that alcohol acts as an irritant and damages body tissues and therefore the cells themselves.
As we have learned in previous articles, cellular damage can potentially lead to changes in the DNA itself, leaving cells unprotected and susceptible to mutation. Another possible link to colorectal cancer is that bacteria in the colon and rectum can convert alcohol into large amounts of acetaldehyde, a potent toxin, which has been shown to cause cancer in lab animals.
The American Cancer Society recommends the following guidelines for the consumption of alcohol and cancer prevention:
Adult men – no more than 2 drinks per day and 1 drink for women.
The above statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.
Johns Hopkins Medicine –Vitamin D and colorectal cancer
American Cancer Society – What are the risk factors for colorectal cancer?
Medscape Medical News – Alcohol linked to colorectal cancer risk
American Cancer Society – Alcohol use and cancer