Beating bowel cancer

This month Beating Bowel Cancer launch Decembeard – growing a beard to help raise awareness of bowel cancer – one of the most common cancers in both men and women. Here are my suggestions to help beat bowel cancer.

Be careful of B Vitamins

B vitamins are good for health, and folic acid, which is particularly rich in vegetables, helps prevent cells becoming pre-cancerous cells. However there is strong evidence that folic acid supplements taken by someone with colorectal cancer, makes the cancer cells grow faster. For this reason I don’t recommend any supplements providing more than 200mcg of folic acid to anyone ‘at risk’ of colorectal cancer.

There is no evidence that a vegetable diet high in folic acid is bad news though so no need to cut back on those. In fact, a high vegetable diet reduces risk. This may be due to the high fibre content.

Follow a high-fibre diet

Dietary fibre has a protective effect on the development of colorectal cancer and diets rich in vegetables and high-fibre grains have shown significant protection against fatal colorectal cancer. Fibre helps in a number of ways: the gut bacteria produce several chemicals including butyrate from fibre. This creates a condition where tumours are less likely to grow, causing them to die off. Fibre also increases the weight of the stools and the frequency of bowel movements, reducing the contact time between the bowel and carcinogen exposure. It also minimises the formation of carcinogens, which occur if the food passes through slowly. There is little doubt that the modern diet – high in alcohol, sugar and fat, and low in fibre – wreaks havoc on the digestive tract and disturbs the gut-associated immune system. The best way to increase your fibre intake is to eat wholefoods and vegetables, all of which contain fibre. Some of the fibre in vegetables is destroyed by cooking, so you should also eat something raw every day.

Avoid red and processed meat

Compelling evidence suggests a strong link between red meat and fat intake and bowel cancer. It is not just the naturally occurring hormones, growth factors and pro-inflammatory chemicals in meat that is the problem. Cooking meat at high temperatures produces chemicals which can damage DNA and increase the incidence of cancer. Some processed meat contains chemicals called nitrites which are converted into carcinogenic chemicals in the bowel. I recommend limiting your intake of red meat and avoiding processed meat. Choose organic lean meat, especially game, in preference to red meat or meat from domesticated animals. Avoid, or rarely eat, burned meat, whether grilled, fried or barbecued. While high consumption of animal fat is positively associated with colorectal cancer, consumption of fatty fish and low fat intake may lower risk.

Take Probiotics

Probiotics help us maintain a healthy digestive system by balancing harmful and beneficial bacteria in our gut. They also support the friendly bacteria in our intestinal tract by secreting certain chemicals that can break down caricinogens. This in turn can help reduce inflammation that can lead to cancer. To support our main beneficial bacterial species we need to eat a diet rich in the fibre found only in fresh, unprocessed fruit, vegetables and grains and the flavanoids and lignans found in vegetables, pulses and seeds. Eating foods rich in prebiotics like chicory, Jerusalem artichokes, leeks, asparagus, garlic, onions, oats and soya beans also support a healthy gut. You can also get prebiotic supplements but you need to be careful about taking too much. More than five to eight grams of FOS can lead to bloating, flatulence and intestinal discomfort. Prebiotics can be combined with probiotics if your beneficial bacteria are likely to be under attack. The best probiotic supplements include some FOS in the capsules. Look out for the commonest two strains – Lactobacilli and Bifidobacterium – because more research has been carried out on them. Sub-strains from these families, most commonly recognised as safe, include: L. acidophilus, L. rhamnosus, L. plantarum, L. casei, B. bifidum, B. infantis (for babies) and B. longum, among others.

High dose vitamin C and Salvestrols
Also consider high dose vitamin C and salvestrols if you have bowel cancer.


2 x high potency multivitamin
2 x omega-3 fish oils high in EPA
5 grams or more vitamin C
An antioxidant complex (containing beta-carotene, vitamin E, and selenium, plus other antioxidant nutrients such as glutathione, alpha lipoic acid, co-enzyme Q10 and resveratrol)
2 x Salvestrol 2000 units for recovery (350units for prevention)
1 x 1000 ius (25mcg) vitamin D
1 x probiotic (containing FOS and at least 15 billion micro-organisms)

To find out more read Say No to Cancer.