Bayonne Ostomy Alliance

Mission statement: The Bayonne Ostomy Alliance is a volunteer based non-profit support group dedicated to providing mutual aid and education, information and advocacy for persons who have had or will have ostomy surgery and for their families.
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Bayonne Ostomy Alliance
125 W. 19th Street,
Bayonne, NJ 07002-1637
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The Evidence Becomes Even Stronger:

Meat, Fiber-rich Foods, and Colon Cancer

By Dr. Joel Fuhrman MD

In 2007, the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) released their Expert Report on Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer. This year as a part of their Continuous Update Project, they have released an addendum outlining some of the new developments in research on the connection between diet and colorectal cancers.1

Colon cancer is the second most common cancer type. These cancers are the ones most closely linked to lifestyle – colon and rectal cancer rates increase with industrialization, and are far more common in high income countries – this means that colon and rectal cancers are also the most preventable cancers. As a result of this 2011 update, the evidence that red and processed meats cause colorectal cancers and that fiber-rich foods prevent colorectal cancers has been upgraded from “probable” to “convincing” by the WCRF.

Red and processed meats contain a number of potentially carcinogenic substances, including N-nitroso compounds, which are especially high in processed meats due to added preservatives. Cooking red meats at high temperatures forms additional carcinogens called heterocyclic amines, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and dioxins.1, 2.

This update took into account six new studies on the combined intake of red and processed meat, six studies on red meat alone, and eleven on processed meat alone. The scientists reviewing all of this information concluded that each 100 grams per day (3.5 ounces) of red and processed meat consumed increases colon cancer risk by 21%.

For red meat alone, each 3.5 ounce serving per day produced a 17% increase in risk of colon and rectal cancers. For processed meat alone, each 1.75 ounce serving per day produced a 24% increase in colon cancer. Red and processed meats were determined to be a convincing cause of colon and rectal cancers.1

Fiber-rich foods, such as fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains have been associated in countless studies with lower cancer rates. In the WCRF’s update, 12 new studies on dietary fiber and fiber-rich foods were analyzed, and every 10 grams/day of fiber consumed produced an 11% decrease in colon cancer risk. Ten grams of fiber is not very much – it is about the amount in one cup of cooked broccoli plus one medium-sized apple.

A significant risk reduction can be achieved by basing the diet primarily on whole plant foods, which are rich in fiber. It is important to note that these studies were based on food sources of fiber, not supplements – so this decrease in risk is attributed to fiber-rich foods, not fiber itself. This makes sense, since the foods highest in fiber are also the ones highest in protective nutrients – minerals, antioxidants, and other phytochemicals.

In addition, fiber itself increases stool bulk, which shortens transit time in the colon. Also, the fermentation of certain fibers and resistant starch (abundant in fiber-rich foods) produces protective substances like butyrate, which has numerous anti-cancer effects.

The release of this report by the WCRF has the goal of helping people make choices that reduce their chances of developing cancer, and my goal is the same: to bring this important information to the public, letting everyone know that our lifestyle choices can have a huge impact on our risk of cancer.

Dr. Fuhrman is a best-selling author and board certified family physician specializing in lifestyle and nutritional medicine. Visit his informative website at


  1. Continuous Update Project Interim Report Summary. Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Colorectal Cancer.. World Cancer Research Fund / American Institute for Cancer Research.; 2011.

  2. Wu J, Dong S, Liu G, et al: Cooking process: a new source of unintentionally produced dioxins?Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemisry 2011;59:5444-5449.

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