Excerpts from a chat on colon cancer

Andrea (Glenview) – 12:34 PM:
What prompts the development of polyps in the first place? Does it have anything to do with the types of foods people eat?

Dr. Manoj Mehta
Colon polyps develop from a wide variety of factors. Part, of course is genetic, and has to do with our ability to repair local genetic mutations. These mutations (locally in the lining of the gut) lead to polyps. Everyone has these mutations all the time. Polyps, then, sometimes grow into cancers. Beyond genetics, diets low in fiber, high in meat (nitrosamines), low in antioxidants, low in calcium, and low in selenium and other trace vitamins and minerals, are predisposed to grow polyps.

Patrick (Chicago, Illinois) – 12:37 PM:
Does a more fiber-filled diet help in the prevention of colon cancer?

Dr. Manoj Mehta
The answer is yes, although frequently people ask this when I tell them I’ve found a polyp. My suspicion is this might be too little too late. In other words, the propensity to grow polyps might be started younger in life, when we don’t know what fiber is and could care less. By the time we are growing polyps, I do not think that making radical changes will alter the course of events in the future.

See the full chat history here.

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