Surgeon, Dr. Dennis Begos Discusses the Effects of Dietary Habits and Colon Cancer Risks
Dennis Begos, M.D. explained, “According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), 50% of polyps greater than 2 centimeters in size are cancerous, and approximately 1% of polyps with a diameter less than a centimeter are cancerous. The ACS recommends having all polyps removed (no matter the size) and having a follow-up colonoscopy within a time-frame recommended by your physician. The ACS also suggests that if the polyps are any bigger than 1 centimeter, or if you have more than one, that you are considered at higher risk for colon cancer.”
Dr. Begos continued, “The number one risk factor is age; however, even younger people can develop colon cancer, especially if they have a family history of the disease or lifestyle and health conditions that impact risk.”
Lifestyle Risk Factors:
- Being over age 45 (or younger in some cases)
- Family history
- Poor Dietary habits
- Excessive Alcohol Consumption
Health Conditions that can Affect Risk:
- IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease)
- Crohn’s Disease
- Ulcerative Colitis
- History of breast, uterine or ovarian cancer
- Lynch Syndrome
Dr. Dennis Begos further discussed nutrition, “Dietary changes can resolve some of the risks of developing colon cancer. The USDA recommendation for 5–9 servings of fruits and vegetables daily is due to the antioxidants and fiber, which can help to ward off diseases and also to keep the colon functioning properly. Numerous studies over the years have indicated that diets rich in mammalian muscle meat (cow, pig, goat, etc.), cheese and processed foods increase the odds of getting colon cancer by nearly two times their plant-based peers.
“One such study, in particular, surveyed by the World Cancer Research began a trial between 1995 and 1998 and followed female participants for an average of 17 years. They found that exploratory analysis revealed that women on a red meat free-diet had a lower risk for distal colon cancer vs. patients who ate red meat (HR=0.56; 95% CI, 0.34–0.95).1
“In 2002 through 2007, a study done at Loma Linda University found that vegetarian-style diets such as vegan, Lacto-Ovo vegetarian, pescatarian, or even semi-vegetarian dieters had a decreased risk of developing colon cancer.’ Dr. Dennis Begos continued, “The researchers tracked the participants until 2014 for incidents of colon cancer. Specifically, the study found that vegan dieters (Plant-based only) had a 22% lower risk, and pescatarians dieters (plant-based with seafood) had a 43% lower risk. Many gastroenterologists agree that eating plants, and omega-3 fatty acids (cold-water fish or algae) is essential for colon health and can help to decrease the risk of colorectal cancers.
“Studies also indicate that whole grains are beneficial for colon health. Therefore, a diet like the Mediterranean diet may factor in lowering colorectal cancer risks. The Mediterranean diet focuses on plant-based foods, whole grains, fish with limited amounts of dairy, eggs, sugar, and meat.”
Dr. Dennis Begos
Colorectal surgeons diagnose and treat benign and malignant disorders of the gastrointestinal tract. Surgeon, Dr. Dennis Begos has over 20 years of clinical experience in both academic and community hospitals and has held numerous key leadership positions, including Medical Staff President and Chair of Surgery. With his extensive experience in teaching and medical writing, Dr. Begos has been highly esteemed by his peers and patients over the past few decades, as he is recognized for his surgical expertise, innovation, and his significant experience with quality and patient safety analysis and reporting.