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Overall, the mass of evidence to date suggests that up to 75 percent of colon and rectal cancers could be prevented, if people ate a mostly plant-based diet that is naturally high in dietary fiber.

The Fiber Connection The original idea that fiber could help prevent colon cancer was based on observations of populations who had a high-fiber diet. People in those places, like China, have a typical diet that is higher in fiber and lower in fat than in the United States. They also have a lower incidence of heart disease and certain cancers, including colon cancer. One reason fiber-rich diets are thought to help lower cancer risk is quicker elimination of waste. Dietary fiber bulks up the stool and speeds bowel movements, ridding the body of possible carcinogens sooner. It is also thought that fiber reduces the amount of bile acids, which may promote cancer in the intestinal tract.

Putting Fiber in Your Diet

Dietary fiber is exclusively in plant foods, like vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans. A diet including plenty of these foods also contains important vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other phytochemicals that help fight cancer. Nutrition experts recommend that adult men 50 or younger should eat 38 grams of fiber, while women should eat 25 grams. For men and women over 50, the recommended levels are 30 grams for men and 21 grams for women, respectively. These amounts of fiber can be met by simply eating five servings of fruits and vegetables each day, and making sure most of your daily servings of bread, cereal, rice and pasta come from whole grains, like whole wheat. Refined grains are much lower in dietary fiber. Beans are also an excellent source of fiber.

As you increase the amount of fiber you eat each day, proceed gradually. Be sure to drink more water, too.

Fact Or Fiction – The Truth About Colorectal Cancer

News Canada

Colorectal Cancer is a disease that only affects older men.

FICTION: It can affect anyone, men or women equally. Men and women 50 years or older are at greater risk for the disease.

Colorectal Cancer is usually curable.

FACT: It is usually curable when detected early. More than 90 percent of patients with localized cancer confirmed to the colon or rectum are alive five years after initial diagnosis.

Getting tested is necessary for individuals who have symptoms.

FACT: Men and women age 50 or older should get screened regularly for colorectal cancer. Unfortunately, symptoms for this disease are often silent and therefore it is important to get screened regularly even if you have no symptoms. About 75 percent of all new cases of colorectal cancer occur in individuals with no known risk factors for the disease.

I cannot do anything about being diagnosed with colorectal cancer.

FICTION: Colorectal cancer is highly preventable. Some preventative measures include eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and low in fat, regular exercise, moderate alcohol consumption, and no smoking. In addition, it is extremely important to get screened for colorectal cancer after the age of 50. Screening can help to identify colorectal cancer in its early stages or before it even begins.

There really are no treatment options for colorectal cancer.

FICTION: Treatment will depend on the type, grade and stage of the cancer. Management of the disease may include surgery and radiation in the earlier stages of the disease, and chemotherapy options such as Camptosar®, Xeloda® or 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) are generally used in the later stages of the disease when the cancer has spread to other areas of the body.

No two individuals respond the same to therapy, but there is evidence to demonstrate that one or all of these treatment options can effectively aid people living with colorectal cancer.

I can have a good quality of life if diagnosed with colorectal cancer.

FACT: Many people diagnosed with colorectal cancer can have a good quality of life. There are effective treatment options, support groups, and supportive care to help cancer patients cope with the side effects of treatment, as well as the emotional and everyday concerns of living with this disease.

For more information on colorectal cancer, contact the Canadian Cancer Society toll free at 1-888-939-3333 or visit the web site at www.cancer.ca. Other excellent resources include the Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada web site at www.ccac-accc.ca or The National Colorectal Cancer Campaign at www.coloncancercanada.ca.

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