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Colorectal Cancer Rate Rises in Black Men

Colorectal Cancer Rate Rises in Black Men

WASHINGTON--The colorectal cancer rate continues to rise in African-American men while dropping for whites of both sexes and for black women, reported David S. Alberts, MD, associate dean for research, Arizona Cancer Center of the University of Arizona College of Medicine, Tucson.

Furthermore, he said at the 6th Biennial Symposium on Minorities, the Medically Underserved, and Cancer, blacks are generally diagnosed at a later stage of the disease than are whites, leading to lower survival rates.

With every major genetic event in the progression to colon cancer now understood, as well as the fact that 95% of colon cancers arise from adenomas, as many as 90% of colorectal cancers are preventable through screening, he said.

Proper sigmoidoscopy screening of all individuals in the cancer-prone years above age 50 could prevent the huge majority of colon cancers and bring a major drop in incidence, he continued.

Diet appears to be a significant factor in the rising rate among black men, Dr. Alberts added. Consuming animal fat raises the risk, although it is not known whether the fat itself or the method of cooking is to blame. Broiling and barbecuing do appear to be implicated in colon cancer, he noted.

Cut the Gravy

Consuming alcohol and high-calorie diets also increases the risk, as does cigarette smoking. Diets high in fiber, on the other hand, lower risk. Eating 27 g of fiber a day has been shown to cause a 27% drop in cancer, and a diet rich in bran can reduce the size of large polyps.

A diet to reduce colon cancer should therefore be low in calories and include lots of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, Dr. Albert said. Meat, poultry, and fish should be baked, stewed, or micro-waved. Microwaving meat for 3 or 4 minutes and then pouring off the juice can reduce carcinogen content by up to 80%. It is also important to avoid gravy, which contains all the "bad stuff."

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