Colon Cancer Prevention
Protective OptionsThere are a number of protective options that people may consider as part of colon cancer prevention. These include:
- Polyp removal.
Diet is being studied as a risk factor for colon cancer. Some studies suggest that the following may protect against colorectal cancer, but other studies have shown no preventive effect:
- A diet high in fiber and/or fruits and vegetables
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
- High doses of folic acid.
Certain medications may play a role in preventing colon cancer. One example is the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which may be associated with a decreased risk of colorectal cancer. Use of NSAIDs, however, increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, and bleeding in the stomach and intestines.
It is not known if postmenopausal hormone use affects the risk of colorectal cancer. Some studies suggest it may decrease the risk of colon cancer but not rectal cancer. Hormone use, however, may increase the risk of endometrial cancer, colon cancer, blood clots, and heart disease.
There is some evidence that the use of statins (which are medicines used to treat high cholesterol) decreases the risk of colorectal cancer. In fact, recent colon cancer research has suggested that statin use for at least 5 years may reduce the risk for developing colorectal cancer by 47 percent.
However, the authors of this study published in the New England Journal of Medicine (May 2005) caution that other studies are needed before statins are recommended for colon cancer prevention. Examples of statins include:
- Atorvastatin (Lipitor®)
- Rosuvastatin calcium (Crestor®)
- Fluvastatin (Lescol®)
- Lovastatin (Mevacor®, Altoprev®)
- Pravastatin (Pravachol®)
- Simvastatin (Zocor®).
Studies have shown that removing polyps, which may develop into cancer, decreases the risk of colorectal cancer. Bleeding and infection sometimes occur after polyps are removed during colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy. Rarely, the procedure tears the colon.