Colorectal cancer denotes cancer of the colon, large intestine and the rectum. This form of cancer is a widespread cancer of the digestive tract that affects over 150,000 men and women annually in the United States alone. It has been found that generally elderly people develop colorectal cancer and as far as this type of cancer is concerned, some families have a genetic association. In effect, colorectal tumors may often grow to a reasonably large size and still not get in the way of the bowel. This is one reason why colorectal cancer usually goes undetected till it has spread considerably.
Among the several symptoms of colorectal cancer the most common include indistinct pain in the abdomen, alteration in the bowel habits, acid stomach, convulsion in the abdomen, muscular strain and, most noticeably, blood stained stool. Occasionally, rectal bleeding is not visible, but it is possible to detect it by employing a home test kit that is available with the drugstores. In fact, the stool may contain blood owing to several disorders of the intestine and, hence, it is important to always consult a qualified physician whenever you find blood in your stool. For instance, blood in the stool can also be due to polyps - little growths akin to stalks in the colon. In case such polyps develop in the colon, they should be treated immediately, even if they are benign in nature, as they have the aptitude to develop into cancer when they are enlarged. In effect, it has been found that often colorectal cancers begin in the form of polyps.
For those who are uninitiated, colorectal cancer is related to diets that contain high fat and are low in fiber content. For example, consumption of animal fat lowers the amount of oxygen that is available to helpful bacteria that are usually present in the colon and facilitate digestion. In the absence of adequate supply of oxygen, these friendly bacteria make toxins that have the aptitude to result in colorectal cancer. Similarly, deficiency of fiber augments this problem, as fiber is essential to enhance the pace at which these toxins, together with the remaining stool, are exuded by the body. It is worth mentioning that colorectal cancer is something that is virtually unheard of in societies wherein people consume fiber-rich diets. Several other issues are related to colorectal cancer and they include deficiency of calcium, heredity, chronic constipation and/ or diarrhea.
Our body possesses specific abilities to defend against the development of colorectal cancer. Among these defences, gene p53 is most important. Basically, gene p53 is a molecular patrolman, which puts off flawed cells from propagating. In addition, there are other genes as well as defensive factors that also help in inhibiting or stopping the growth of colorectal cancer. A number of genes save the cells from the ‘bystander effect’, or genetic harm that happens when the friendly bacteria present in the colon transform nitrates present in the foods as well as nitrates added in the form of food preservatives into detrimental forms.
Several systems are employed in phases to categorize colorectal cancer depending on the extent to which the disease has spread, generally to the lungs, liver or the bones. The principal treatment for this form of cancer is surgery. In case cancer develops in the rectum, physician will use surgical methods intended to maintain the usual way to remove bowel whenever it is possible. In addition, chemotherapy as well as radiation is also employed to treat colorectal cancer. In some cases, the doctors also use immunotherapy, wherein intense amounts of the chemicals of the body’s own immune system are administered, for instance, tumour necrosis factor (TNF) or interferon are given to the patient.
It has been found that the use of specific herbs along with conventional treatment has been effective in treating colorectal cancer. It is important that you always make use of herbs and herbal products as an element of the therapeutically directed general treatment plan for colorectal cancer.
Supplements and herbs
As discussed above, specific herbs and supplements may be used along with conventional medications to facilitate the treatment of colorectal cancer. However, these herbs and supplements should be used with caution, as use of some of them may be prohibited if you are suffering from additional conditions.
You may use astragalus fluidextract in dosage of 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon (1 ml to 2 ml) thrice every day, as it helps in invigorating two forms of immune cells - the T cells and the LAK cells, to invade the cancer cells. However, it is advisable that you should not use astragalus in case you are suffering from a fever or have any type of skin infection.
Tinctures prepared with herbs like barberry, goldenseal, coptis, or Oregon grape root are also effective in treating colorectal cancer. Take any of these tinctures in doses of 15 to 30 drops added to 1/4 cup of water thrice every day. However, caution should be exercised in ensuring that you do not use any of these herbs every day for a period of over two weeks. These herbs enclose a substance called berberine that slows down the multiplication of the carcinogenic cells.
Here is a word of caution: never use barberry, goldenseal, coptis or Oregon grape root if you are suffering from gallbladder disease or during pregnancy. In addition, none of these herbs should be taken in conjunction with vitamin B supplements or together with any protein supplement that contains amino acid histidine. You should especially keep away from using goldenseal if you are suffering from glaucoma or have any cardiovascular disease.
Alternately, people who have developed colorectal cancer may also take garlic enteric-coated tablets in dosage of a minimum of 900 mg every day, as it helps to slow down the bystander effect and, at the same time, holds back the spread of tumour. Garlic neutralizes the effects of lactobacillus and bifidus cultures that are taken to assist digestion. Talk to a physician prior to using garlic tablets regularly in case you are taking anticoagulant medications, for instance, warfarin (Coumadin). If you are using garlic, it is essential that you consult your physician prior to undergoing any kind of surgery.
Using green tea catechin extract in dosage of 240 mg thrice every day or using green tea bags to prepare tea with one cup (250 ml) of boiling water is helpful in treating colorectal cancer. It is advisable that you should drink at least two to five cups of green tea every day. In order to put off dilution, never drink the tea within one hour of taking any other oral medicine. Green tea as well as green tea catechin extracts help to hold back the development of Clostridium bacteria that convert nitrate from foods into harmful forms in the colon.
Consume kelp in the form of food. You may consume any amount of kelp you desire, but it is essential to restrict this to only once every week. Consumption of kelp increases the rate of passing food through the intestines, which, in turn, facilitates the removal of toxins through the stool.
People who have developed colorectal cancer may also find administration of lentinan intramuscular injections beneficial, which must essentially be administered by a qualified healthcare practitioner. Lentinan intramuscular injections augment the effects of immune therapy using recombinant TNF or interferon.
As far as supplements are concerned, the patients may take maitake-D in dosage of 2,000 mg thrice every day prior to having meals. This supplement generally invigorates the immune system and, at the same time, inhibits the development of new tumours. Alternately, you may also take polysaccharide kureha (PSK) tablets in dosage of 6,000 mg every day. These tablets help to lessen the spread of tumour to the lungs, peritoneum, lymph nodes and the liver.
Quercetin tablets taken in dosage of 125 mg to 250 mg thrice every day between meals too are helpful in treating colorectal cancer, as it disables the enzymes that encourage the growth of tumours. However, you should never use quercetin in case you are already taking cyclosporine (Sandimunne, Neoral) or nifedipine (Procardia). Alternately, you may also take bromelain tablets in dosage of 125 mg thrice every day between meals. It helps in enhancing the absorption of quercetin by the body. Nevertheless, individuals who have allergic reactions to pineapple may develop rash when they use bromelain. Stop taking this tablet if you experience any type of itching following its use.
Reishi tablets taken in dosage of 3 gm thrice every day help to promote production of interleukin-2, a chemical of the immune system, while soy isoflavone concentrate tablets, which contain daidzein, taken in dosage of 3,000 mg once every day help to slow down the growth of colon cancer cells. You may also take turmeric curcumin tablets in dosage of 250 mg to 500 mg twice every day between meals, as these will help in turning on gene p53.
Additional things you may do
In order to prevent colon cancer from recurring, at every meal you should consume foods that are rich in fiber immediately when it is possible after treatment of the disease. It is important to note that no less than 20 grams of fiber is required in your diet every day to protect you against developing colorectal cancer. You can obtain this amount of fiber by consuming no less than six to eight servings of vegetables, fruits, legumes like lentils, peas or beans every day. However, if you still have an active tumour in your body, you should avoid eating extra fiber.
In addition, you should improve your diet by including omega-3 fatty acids. You can do this by consuming MaxEPA fish oil; eating two to three servings of cold-water fish like mackerel, salmon or tuna every week; consuming flaxseed oil; or vegetarian DHA like Neuromins, according to the instructions on the product label. Besides, evening primrose and/ or borage oil are also beneficial in preventing development of colorectal cancer.
Whenever possible, you should also eat two to three servings of dairy products that have low fat content, but contain enhanced amounts of vitamin D. When vitamin D reaches the kidneys, it is converted into a hormone that binds with and disables the cells of colon cancer. Taking even reasonable quantities of vitamin D helps to accelerate the recovery from the first stage of colon tumours and, at the same time, resulting in about a 50 per cent decrease in development of new cancer cells. In case you do not consume dairy products, you must get a minimum of 20 minutes of exposure to sunlight or total spectrum light every day. Remember, you should not use any sunscreen during these 20 minutes, as sunscreen that are of the PABA types wedge the type of ultraviolet (UV) rays that are required by the body to manufacture vitamin D.
It is also important to take anything between 500 mg to 1,000 mg vitamin C every day with a view to assist in preserving the healthy intensity of vitamin D in the body.
In order to lessen the chances of developing colon cancer you should also take 1,200 mg of calcium every day, for ingestion of calcium supplements helps to lessen the risks of developing cancer by about 75 per cent. Calcium blends with toxic substances in the body to produce insoluble soaps, which are driven back from the digestive tract lining and released by the body through the stool. It is important that you should always take calcium supplements along with magnesium as this will help to put off any type of imbalance between these two minerals. It is advisable that you take calcium twice the amount of magnesium, which is gauged as ‘elemental calcium’ and ‘elemental magnesium’ on the respective product labels.
You should also take a total mineral supplement that contains copper, but does not have iron. Copper inhibits the formation of abnormal cells, also called aberrant crypts, inside the furrows usually present in the anal canal. On the contrary, any food that is rich in iron content, for instance, organ meats, or iron supplements hastens the damage of the colon.
People who are suffering from any form of cancer or have just recovered from the disease should keep away from red meat. According to the findings of a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the researchers detected that the risk of developing colon cancer was more in women who consumed pork, beef, or lamb as the main dish daily was two and a half times more than those who consumed this type of food once every month. In addition, consumption of processed meat as well as liver is also related to augmented risk of developing colon cancer, while eating chicken with no skin as well as fish is associated with lesser risk of developing this deadly disease.
It may be noted that using aspirin retards inflammatory prostaglandin production. However, using aspirin results in bleeding in the stomach and, hence, it is important to consult a physician prior to undertaking aspirin therapy while treatment for cancer is ongoing. Sulindac, which is a general prescription drug for treating arthritis, may work against pre-carcinogenic conditions, especially in the case of colon and rectum cancers. Use of this medicine has been related to decreased hazards of developing new polyps following a colorectal surgery. You should talk to your physician regarding starting treatment using sulindac in case you have already undergone a colon surgery, or in case you have desmoids or slow-developing colorectal cancer.
Latest studies have discovered that just drinking more water reduces the chances of developing colorectal cancer to a great extent. This is especially true in the case of men. A study undertaken by scientists in Taiwan have detected that men in the age group of 33 years and 80 years, who drink more than eight glasses of water every day, face about 92 per cent less risk of having colon cancer compared to men who drink less than five glasses of water daily, considering that all the other factors remain the same.
Other beneficial herbs