Colon Cancer: Prevention

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Guest: Dr. Brenda J. Hoffman Gastroenterology and Hepatology
Host: Dr. Linda Austin - Psychiatry

Announcer: Welcome to an MUSC health Podcast.

Dr. Linda Austin: I am Doctor Linda Austin talking with Dr. Brenda J. Hoffman, who is Professor of Medicine at the Digestive Disease Center of Medical University of South Carolina. Dr. Hoffman, your passion really has been the study and treatment of colon cancer. Surely, it would be wonderful if we could prevent colon cancer. Are there any dietary measures that people should be following to reduce the risk?

Dr. Brenda J. Hoffman: It is interesting that you asked that because I was just reviewing the numbers for obesity in the United States and its an embarrassment to me that we are such a fat nation, but it is obesity, it is the elevations of insulin levels in our bodies that increase our risk of colon cancer. It can also be what we take in such as red meats, fatty foods, fried foods, and too few fruits and vegetables that create this problem, so, we can prevent it. We can prevent it by being physically active, by keeping our body weight down because that clearly correlates whether its from lack of exercise or because of the elevations of insulin that we get as we get fatter. The best thing we can do for ourselves is to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables because the studies that have looked at dietary supplements like vitamins or beta-carotene, those types of things have not shown the benefit that eating the mixture does give you. We can also avoid alcohol in large amounts. For women, we should not have more than one alcoholic beverage per day and for men, probably two. There are some benefits that can be gained from it, but in general, alcohol should be avoided. We can also have other things that we ingest like calcium. Calcium products have been shown to be a benefit in prevention of colon cancer and polyps.

Dr. Linda Austin: Are there any social or racial groups, who are more predisposed to colon cancer?

Dr. Brenda J. Hoffman: We have just begun to look into this and we actually are finding that the answer is yes. There has actually been a recommendation by the American College of Gastroenterology that African-Americans have colon cancer screening five years younger than other individuals because we are missing them, we are having people present at later stages, and we probably do need to do them a little bi t earlier. The sex of the person does not matter, male versus female; they all need colon cancer screening. The other person who needs to be careful is a diabetic. People with diabetes have a marked increase in the risk of colon cancer and its felt to be related to high levels of insulin within the body that stimulate colon cells to proliferate.

Dr. Linda Austin: Dr. Hoffman, thank you so much.

Dr. Brenda J. Hoffman: Thank you.

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