New study shows ’inflammatory diet’ can increase colon cancer risk

RALEIGH, N.C. — Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S., and researchers found dietary habits can play an important role in reducing the risk of the disease.


A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association looked at “inflammatory diets.” Researchers compiled data of more than 100,000 men and women over a 26-year period, focusing specifically on their diets.

“Those with more inflammatory diets have a higher risk of colorectal cancer that is significant — significantly increased,” said Dr. James Church, a gastroenterologist at the Cleveland Clinic.

Inflammation-causing foods include red meat, processed meat, refined grains and soda. Men and women with high-inflammation diets were more likely to develop colon cancer than those with low inflammation diets, researchers found

Doctors said healthier diets include more leafy, green vegetables and dark yellow vegetables, such as carrots, squash and sweet potatoes. Eating that type of diet plus achieving a normal weight and being physically active are all things people can do to reduce their risk of colon cancer, the study found.

What people cannot change, though, is their inherited risk.

Cancer-causing polyps are the result of genetic changes that occur randomly in the cells lining the colon, Church said. The good news is that colon cancer can be stopped by removing troublesome polyps.

Church said everyone should follow recommend colorectal cancer screening, which for most people starts at age 50.

“Colorectal cancer is the one solid-organ cancer we can prevent because we know every cancer starts off on a benign polyp,” Church said. “So, all we have to do is find that polyp and take it off.”