Meet the culprit that is linked to the cause of bowel cancer – antibiotics increase the risk of bowel cancer. When taking antibiotics, there are both short and long-term risks, and most of the time this only becomes evident long after you’ve stopped taking the drug. One of their greatest risks is that they are wiping out the bacteria in your gut. We know that antibiotics attack the infection-causing bacteria and eliminate them, however, they are also eliminating a great deal of the other good bacteria making up your microbiome. Likewise, past research has also shown that people with less bacterial diversity in their gastrointestinal tracts are more likely to develop colon cancer.
Antibiotics Increase the Risk of Bowel Cancer
Further research suggests that altering your microbiome via antibiotics also reduces your resistance to bacteria that could increase the development of precancerous growths in your colon, known as polyps. New research, published in the journal Gut, used data from more than 16,600 women aged 60 years and older, spanning 2004 to 2010. Women who had used antibiotics for two months or more were at an increased risk of developing colon polyps.
Medical News Today reported: “When women who had not taken antibiotics in their 20’s to 50’s were compared with individuals who had taken them for more than 15 days between the ages of 20 and 59, there was a 73 percent increased risk of adenoma diagnosis.”
Protecting Your Colon Health Starts with Protecting Your Gut Health
The health of your gut affects that of your entire body, which is why protecting your colon health shares many of the same principles as protecting your gut health. Adequate fibre is important and vegetables are your best source of fibre. Psyllium seed husk, flax seeds, hemp seeds and chia seeds also provide valuable sources of soluble and insoluble fibre. In short, eating a high-vegetable, fibre- and fermented food-rich diet is key to preventing colon cancer.
Avoid Antibiotic-Laden Meats and Processed Meats
Processed meats, such as bacon, ham, pastrami, salami, pepperoni, hot dogs and some sausages, are those preserved by smoking, curing, salting or adding chemical preservatives. The nitrates found in processed meats are frequently converted into nitrosamines, which are clearly associated with an increased risk of certain cancers. Research also suggests that people who eat the most red meat (in one study this was 140g a day) have a 24 percent greater risk of colorectal cancer than those who eat the least. (Cancer Research March 15, 2010 70; 2406) Red meat is likely not the problem in and of itself, however; the way it’s cooked, and the source it comes from, likely play a role. Grass-fed beef, for instance, contains cancer-fighting compounds.
When it comes to meats, we recommend eating organically raised grass-fed meats only and cooking them only lightly (rare, not well-done).
5 Steps to Lowering Your Risk of Colon Cancer
Now that we’ve established that antibiotics increase the risk of bowel cancer, what can we do about it? Here are a few tips to reduce the risk.
- Eat More Vegetables
- Optimize Your Vitamin D Levels
- Limit Your Alcohol Intake and Quit Smoking
- Maintain a Healthy Weight and Control Belly Fat