Diving Deep: How Meat Consumption Impacts Colorectal Cancer Risk

    A healthy diet is essential for maintaining your physical health and delaying the onset of illness. According to a recent study, there may be a risk of colon cancer among meat eaters. Colorectal cancer (CRC) is still a major global health concern that affects millions of people. In 2022, colorectal cancer (CRC) was diagnosed in approximately 19.2 lakh individuals globally and around 70,000 in India. CRC affects the colon and rectum, which are crucial components of the digestive system responsible for key functions such as absorbing food, forming stool, and expelling waste from the body.

    Although the precise reasons are still unknown, a number of risk factors influence the development of CRC. Age, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), a personal or family history of colorectal cancer or polyps, and specific genetic disorders are a few risk factors that are outside of an individual’s control.

    Eating too much meat may cause CRC

    “Lifestyle factors such as lack of regular physical activity, being overweight, alcohol/tobacco consumption, a diet low in fruit and vegetables, a low-fibre and high-fat diet also increase risk of colorectal cancer,” says Dr. Mohamed Zehran S, Senior Consultant in Medical Oncology at The Apollo Cancer Centre, Chennai. Notably, a diet heavy in processed meats (such hot dogs and various lunch meats) and red meats (like liver, pig, lamb, or cattle) for an extended period of time increases the risk of colorectal cancer. When meats are cooked at high temperatures (such as frying, broiling, or grilling), chemicals are produced that may increase the risk of cancer. Maintaining a healthy weight, exercising, eating a balanced diet, not smoking, and drinking little to no alcohol are all effective ways to prevent colorectal cancer (CRC).

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    What leads to the onset of colorectal cancer

    Prolonged colon inflammation can result in the gut wall’s cells constantly replacing one another. This can occasionally promote tumor formation due to the unchecked and rapid cell growth. A colon polyp is a little clump of cells that develops on the colon’s inner lining. Colon polyps are often benign. However, if treatment is not received, certain colon polyps may eventually progress to colon cancer.

    Symptoms of colorectal cancer

    Early detection of CRC symptoms is essential for prompt action. Changes in bowel habits, such as constipation, diarrhea, a feeling that the intestine is not completely emptying, blood in the stool, narrow stools, cramps or stomach pain, anemia, tiredness, exhaustion, and/or inadvertent weight loss, are among the symptoms. Even if these signs don’t always indicate CRC, they could still require further testing. Radiation therapy, surgery, and/or different anti-cancer medications can all be used to treat CRC.

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    IBD, which includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, is characterized by chronic colon inflammation. Understanding these signs can help with early CRC detection. Together, let’s change people’s lives by identifying CRC early and acting quickly to intervene.

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