Preventing Breast - Lung - and Colorectal Cancer (Bowel Cancer)

Stay healthy | 2018

Prof. Dr. Werner Seebauer is Dean of Studies – Association of German Preventologists, Head of Preventive Medicine Department of Institute of Transcultural Health Sciences (European University Viadrina) and Head of Preventive Medicine – NESA (The New European Surgical Academy).

Since 2000, prof. dr. Werner Seebauer worked only in preventive medicine, after ten years spent at the Frankfurt University Hospital. He is also involved in the medical professionals training for nutrition and prevention.

MediHelp International, together with LAMP Insurance, and in collaboration with NESA has created the NESAcard based on the wish to offer access to high standards medical services to patients all over Europe.

This way, MediHelp contributes to the medical science development and is actively involved in the international social responsibility advocacy. 


Breast Cancer is the most common in women, Lung Cancer the most common in men

Colorectal Cancer is the most common type of cancer for both men and women, but it is also one of the easiest to prevent.
The reevaluation of cancer research centers for more than 29 million people was updated with new data at the end of 2017. It confirmed the previous recommendations for cancer prevention and some new findings were added. This newsletter summarizes the points that showed convincing evidence.

Avoid active and passive smoking

For the prevention of lung cancer as well as breast and colon cancer, it is important not to smoke. Although these are well-known contributing factors, this is mentioned only briefly in the literature.

Avoid becoming overweight (especially obesity)

This increases the risk of breast and bowel cancer as well as 10 other cancers significantly! Every increase of the body mass index by 5 points above normal weight increases - for example - the risk of bowel cancer by about 5%.

Be physically active (Sports - walks - gardening etc.)

Physical activity not only reduces the risk of becoming overweight or helps maintaining one’s normal weight, but it also reduces a variety of disease risks that increase with increased weight - including colorectal cancer risks.

People should aim to be moderately physically active for a minimum of 30 minutes a day – although one hour or more would be ideal. Avoid sitting down for too long and use a pedometer (the goal should be to reach at least 6,000 steps a day - ideally 8,000 - 10,000 steps. After every 45 minutes of sitting down (at the latest every 60 minutes), take a 2-minute break (ideally 5 minutes) and do a little exercise or try taking a short walk.

Eat more wholegrains and foods containing dietary fiber

The data shows that eating three servings (a total of 90g) of wholegrains each day reduces the risk of bowel cancer by 17%. It is also recommended to consume wholemeal bread, salads and vegetables.

Eat more fruits and vegetables and a greater variety

If your diet contains too little vegetables or fruits it increases various cancer and cardiovascular risks. You should have minimum 5 servings a day (for example, 3 servings of vegetables and 2 servings of fruit - one serving equates to an adult-size handful) – preferably different colored fruits and vegetables (Remarks: use the traffic light method - at least red - yellow - green daily).  

Starchy vegetables are not included here - so the potato is not one of the risk-reducing ones - if a person is overweight, starchy food can even increase the overweight excess via the faster blood sugar increase and the insulin reactions - unless there is a lot of physical activity. Non-starchy vegetables decrease risks of bowel cancer as well as lung and breast cancer which are also among the most common cancers.
Starchy vegetables are: potatoes, yams, taro, green peas, corn (except non-sweet baby corn). 

Almost every vegetable also contains starches, but by non-starchy vegetables are meant those types of vegetables which do not contain a lot of it and which offer slow carbs (which means that it does not contain too much glucose and at the same time they contain a good amount of fiber and/or protein that slow down the absorption of carbohydrates).

Fruits in general and foods containing carotenoids* decrease Lung, Prostate and Breast Cancer

Even beta-carotene containing food reduced lung cancer risks. ß-Carotene isolated in supplements, however, increases lung cancer risks - smokers should therefore not ingest ß-carotene higher than 10 mg isolated in supplements; in the diet ß carotene should not be reduced also by smokers.

* Lycopene, β-carotene and β-cryptoxanthin in fruits and vegetables – red, orange and yellow colors – e.g. tomatoes, red pepper, carrots, peppers, papaya tangerines, physalis, pumpkin, etc.)
Food containing vitamin c reduces lung and bowel cancer risks. Bus this does not refer to the isolated vitamin c found in the compound of fruits and vegetables. The vitamin interacts with thousands of phytochemicals, which are much more potent anticarcinogens.

Avoid processed meat and eat less red meat

Per 50g of processed meat consumed a day (such as sausage products or ham, bacon etc.) the risk for bowel cancer increases by 16%. The recommendation is to avoid or eat only a small amount of processed meat and no more than 500g (cooked weight) of red meat a week.
Red meat is all meat except poultry or fish. Therefore even light-looking pork or veal fall under the category of red meats.

Consuming fish might decrease the risk of colorectal cancer.
When eating fish it is important to make sure that it is not contaminated by pollutants. Smaller fish are safer in this respect than large predatory fish. Deep-sea fish (especially the arctic regions) are safer than fish from inhabited and polluted coastal regions.

Every meat – also fish - should not be fried too much. In the newsletter about roasting, frying and grilling meat you can read why.

Drink less alcohol – or none at all

Consuming 10g of ethanol per day increases the risk of bowel cancer by 7%. For prevention of any cancer, it's best not to drink alcohol. If someone chooses to drink, they should limit their intake of alcoholic drinks and follow national guidelines. Since cancer usually arises from the sum of various risk factors, it is difficult to say whether a lower amount of alcohol (for example, less than 10 g per day; or for overweight people a little more but not more than 20g per day) is safe and can even reduce cardiovascular risks. If someone has several factors that can increase cancer risks, it is better not to drink alcohol at all or consume only small amounts.

Dairy products, and Calcium may reduce bowel cancer risk

The Data showed with strong evidence that consuming milk and dairy products may reduce bowel- and breast-cancer risks. But for other cancer types it is different; dairy products and diets high in calcium may increase prostate cancer risks, for instance. For more evidence on the reduction of bowel cancer risks by consumption of dairy products as well fish, or taking calcium supplements more research is necessary.

Vitamin D may reduce bowel cancer risk

Regarding the supplementation, there are various indications that vitamin D could also reduce the incidence of colorectal cancer. Vitamin D is followed by an extra newsletter, because in winter many people north of the latitudes of Northern Italy have a need to supplement.

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