Cancer-Fighting Menu

Cancer-Fighting Menu

Chicken breast, fish, red meat and beans, along with vegetables and fruits (especially bananas) are the menu items that can help men significantly lower their risk of developing colorectal cancer.

All these foods have a key nutrient in common, and as a new study confirms, this nutrient may significantly reduce colorectal cancer risk.

One stood out

In the e-Alert “Five Guardians” (12/5/05), I told you about a study that assessed nutrient intakes in two groups: more than 360 subjects with colorectal polyps and about 425 polyp-free subjects. Researchers found five nutrients that were associated with a lower risk of developing polyps: folate, beta-carotene, and vitamins C, D, and B-6.

Other research has shown a clear link between low B-6 levels and increased colorectal cancer risk.

This new study comes from Tokyo’s National Cancer Center where researchers followed more than 81,000 subjects for more than 14 years. The subjects (about 38,000 men and 43,000 women) were enrolled in the Japan Public Health Center-Based Prospective Study. Food frequency questionnaires were used to assess intake of four specific nutrients: vitamins B-6, B-12, folate, and methionine (an essential amino acid).

In the July 2007 issue of the Journal of Nutrition, the NCC team noted that male subjects who had the highest B-6 intake had a 31 percent reduction in colorectal cancer risk compared to subjects with the lowest intake of the vitamin. The other nutrients were not linked with protection, and none of the nutrients studied offered protection among female subjects.

The study also revealed another B-6 benefit. Men in the study who drank 150 grams of alcohol or more per week were at significantly greater risk of developing colorectal cancer. But male subjects who drank at this level and also were among those with the highest B-6 intake were not at increased risk.

Amazing nutrient

In the e-Alert “Brain Protection” (8/15/06), I shared this quote from HSI Panelist Allan Spreen, M.D.: “All in all, B-6 is an amazing nutrient.”

Over the years, research has shown that B6 plays a role in the development of brain neurotransmitters, helps prevent heart disease, and can relieve symptoms of morning sickness and carpal tunnel syndrome.

Dr. Spreen recommends 100 to 400 mg of B-6 per day.

Dr. Spreen: “Rarely, if ever, do I go above that. There have been reports of B-6 ‘toxicity,’ which consists of numbness and tingling in the hands and fingers (which is also what a deficiency can do, oddly enough), but it’s hard to do. I did a literature search years ago and came up with only six cases. This ‘toxicity’ requires in the neighborhood of 2,000 mg daily for at least a monthdoses as low as 1,000 mg can do it, but they require longer periods of time.

“B-6 is definitely more effective in the company of magnesium – they work together intimately in the body. 100 mg or so of B-6 with 500 mg of magnesium is a good starting point (and ending for many).”

Adequate calcium intake may also help control colorectal polyps.

In a 2004 study, researchers divided 930 patients with colorectal polyps into two groups to receive either a 1,200 mg daily supplement of calcium carbonate or a placebo. Colonoscopies conducted about one year and four years after each subjects’ initial exams showed that those who received the calcium had fewer polyps than those in the placebo group. The supplements proved most effective against advanced polyps.

When researchers followed up on the subjects five years after calcium supplementation was discontinued, polyp risk was reduced by more than 40 percent and the risk of all colon cancers was reduced by 35 percent among those who received the calcium.

Talk to your doctor before adding calcium or vitamin B-6 to your supplement regimen.