Reducing the Risk of Colon Cancer

This is a big deal, as colon cancer can affect people as young as their early 20s — basically all adults.

It’s been awhile since I wrote about the difference between association and causality. To say that two things tend to happen together doesn’t prove that one causes the other. You need a mechanism that can explain how one causes the other.

Spinach consumption has been associated with as much as a 50% reduction in the risk of colon cancer. New research from Texas A&M University now explains how spinach reduces this risk.

Spinach retards the formation of polyps in the colon. Researchers originally suspected chlorophyll in spinach as providing the benefit against polyps, but it turns out that the mechanism involves fatty acids and linoleic acid derivatives also found in spinach. These interact with gut bacteria and genes to reduce the incidence of polyps.

Some people develop polyps that are so numerous as to require removal of part of the colon — and may still have the risk of development of polyps elsewhere. The findings about spinach suggest that this may provide a way to reduce the risk of those situations developing.

The current research is based on animal studies. However, when one of the physicians involved in the research asked whether he considered the results to be actionable — that is, whether people should immediately increase consumption of spinach — his response was simple:

“The sooner, the better.”

Dr. Roderick Dashwood

Note that spinach has a range of other health benefits:

  1. A rich source of vitamin K1, which has been shown to help reduce the risk of cardiomegaly (enlargement of the heart, a common form of heart disease)
  2. A good source of glutathione, which helps boost the master antioxidant pathway in the body, and strengthen immune system function
  3. Folate, which is one of the vitamins needed to lower homocysteine levels, and reduce the risk of plaque build-up in arteries as well as formation of uric acid

Bottom line: Eat spinach.



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