Numerous studies have linked a high intake of red meat or processed meats to colon cancer. KRON 4 Morning News Weekend anchor, Marty Gonzalez, has me explain why eating animal protein and fat are to blame.
Bile is to Blame
- Bile assists with digestion by breaking down fats. Think of bile as “Mother Nature’s degreaser”. This greenish yellow secretion is made and released by the liver, then concentrated and stored in the gallbladder until fat enters your small intestine.
- Bile acids stimulate the growth of bacteria, which convert the primary bile acids into secondary bile acids.
- Bile acids, particularly secondary bile acids, have long been suspected as being cancer-causing.
- Eating more fat means more fat and bile acids in the colon.
High Saturated Fats in the Diet
- A high intake of saturated fat is associated with high levels of bile, which is usually evident in colon cancer patients.
- High saturated fats + high levels of bile are factors that produce colorectal cancer tumors.
Meat Sources High in Saturated Fat
- Meat – e.g., fatty cuts of beef, pork, lamb
- Processed / deli meats – salami, sausages, chicken skin
- Lard – pig fat
Bile Circulates from Colon to Breast
Secondary bile acids can get absorbed into the bloodstream and travel throughout the body. This could also explain why a high saturated fat diet is also linked to breast cancer.
Why African Americans Get More Colon Cancer than Native Africans
- A study found that African Americans ate nearly twice the protein (94 gm/day vs 58 gm/day) and three times more fat (114 gm/day vs 38 gm/day), meat, saturated fat, and cholesterol than Native Africans.
- Compared to African Americans, Native Americans produced a fraction of the secondary bile acids.
Dramatic Change After Switching to Plants
- It has long been known that people who follow a plant-based diet have less bile in their stools, so their capacity to form carcinogens in the colon is low. They produce about 70% less of the secondary bile acids linked to cancer compared to meat-eaters.
- After just ONE WEEK on a plant-based diet, the growth of toxic and carcinogenic bacteria was reduced by 50%. After ONE MONTH, their presence in the gut was reduced by 50%.
The Toxic Effects of Bile Acids
- Increased bile acids increased production of free radicals. Free radicals damage DNA and the ability for cells to repair themselves.
- In a 12-day study, subjects ate a diet rich in fat (50%) and meat and poor in dietary fiber. After one week they were switched to a low fat, fiber-rich diet. Hydroxyl radicals* dropped 13-fold.
*Hydroxyl radicals are one of the most destructive free radicals, which may increase colon cancer risk.
Reduce Colon Cancer Risk Factors
- Eliminate red meat or limit to 3 ounces per week or less
- Stop smoking
- Reduce alcohol consumption
- Maintain normal weight
Fit Tip: Less fat is better. Limit animal fat and reduce/eliminate baked goods and whole milk dairy products, e.g., butter, cheese, and ice cream.