Colorectal Cancer Can Be Devastating! Be Proactive.
By Joy Stephenson-Laws, J.D., Founder
I was deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Lawrence Meadows, brother of popular broadcast journalist Craig Melvin. At just 39-years-old, Meadows was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer back in 2016. He lost the battle against this devastating cancer in December of 2020 at the age of 43.
Although this happened several months ago, It’s worth mentioning because way too many young Americans (especially black Americans) are succumbing to colon cancer (also called colorectal cancer, meaning cancer that starts in the colon or rectum). It is quite haunting that actor Chadwick Boseman passed before Meadows at the same age due to having colon cancer as well. And when I think about these young men, I also think about my own brother who died of this cancer at the age of 65.
The American Cancer Society reports that colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer (aside from skin cancers) diagnosed in both men and women in the United States. Poor diet and lack of screenings are believed to be major contributors, especially as far as young people are concerned, by many healthcare professionals.
The following story about colon cancer is also very disturbing and emphasizes that as patients we really have to be proactive and advocate for ourselves.
Amanda Lee, just 27-years-old, reported that she was body shamed and dismissed by her doctor when she complained of extreme stomach pain, according to this recent report from People.
She had such difficulty eating that she lost 35 pounds. Her doctor’s response?
“Maybe that’s not such a bad thing,” he said, insinuating that it was good that she was losing weight because she was overweight and needed to lose some extra pounds.
He also refused to run any diagnostic tests on Lee. It was not until she fought to see another doctor who insisted she undergo a colonoscopy when she was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer. Of course not all doctors are like the one who behaved extremely inappropriately, but I want to stress how important it is to not ignore your own pain and fight for a second opinion like this young woman did.
If you are a regular reader of pH Labs blogs, then you know that I have discussed several times how imperative it is to eat healthily, avoid inflammatory foods, avoid smoking and drinking excessively, exercise regularly and maintain a healthy weight and body composition and undergo screenings in order to help prevent colorectal cancer or any type of cancer for that matter.
I also want to point out recent research about this cancer that can help educate us all and make us more proactive and in control.
For example, a recent study found evidence which suggests a link between the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and increased risk of colorectal cancer in women under the age of 50.
“The findings suggest that heavy consumption of sugary drinks during adolescence (ages 13 to 18) and adulthood can increase the disease risk,” according to one report discussing the study’s findings.
“Like early-onset colorectal cancer rates, consumption of such drinks has increased over the past 20 years, with the highest consumption level found among adolescents and young adults ages 20 to 34.”
Men are not off the hook. This study just happened to involve women. This study also shows that being young does not provide a protective barrier from poor diet choices. We have proof that what people consume when they are young may greatly determine whether they are healthy in older age.
In addition to consuming too many sugary beverages, Americans are also guilty of eating too many fried foods. And, honestly not surprisingly, the use of frying oil may be linked to the development of colorectal cancer.
According to another recent study, feeding frying oil to mice “exaggerated colonic inflammation, enhanced tumor growth and worsened gut leakage, spreading bacteria or toxic bacterial products into the bloodstream,” states one report discussing this study.
(As you may know, chronic inflammation is believed to be a major contributor to all types of cancer).
So many Americans already suffer from colonic inflammation due to having medical issues such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). What this study suggests is that consuming frying oil may exacerbate such conditions and cause even more inflammation (and possibly cancer). And even if your colon is perfectly healthy, you probably may want to avoid excessive fried foods.It is so important to be proactive about our colon health.
Finally never underestimate the importance of screening. Many healthcare professionals recommend that people begin screening as young as 45, especially if you are high risk or have a family history of colorectal cancer. I know that getting a colonoscopy may sound very intimidating and unpleasant, but it is really not that bad. You can read about my personal experience with it here.
Enjoy your healthy life!
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice. Please consult with your doctor or another competent healthcare practitioner to get specific medical advice for your situation.
The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.