Colon cancer: symptoms, causes, proper nutrition

Cancer rears its head due to delays in screening due to covid. But good news comes from researchers: Omega 3 fatty acids help to contain the risks. Airc Research Days are back, here's how to contribute

  ricciardiello-clerici-airc-1920 The researcher Luigi Ricciardiello and the Airc testimonial, Antonella Clerici

Cancer and tumors in general rear their heads. The long period of Covid, with its overload of hospital facilities and breaks in preventive screening, have restored strength to this deadly adversary of man. “The damages of covid in the context of prevention are measurable,” he explains Luigi Ricciardiello, associate professor of Gastroenterology at the University of Bologna and coordinator, for 13 years, of a research group focused on colon cancer prevention. «We estimated that during the lockdown period, simply moving screening actions forward by six months led to an increase in diagnoses of cancers in more advanced stages. With slippages greater than 12 months, our projections indicated a 12% increase in mortality at 5 years. A small stop for our regions which fortunately subsequently prepared countermeasures. Italy remains at the top in Europe for the number of recoveries: today 3.6 million citizens have overcome a cancer diagnosis, with an increase of 36% compared to just ten years ago.

Fabiola Valentín and Mariana Varela, the images of the wedding of the misses Fabiola Valentín and Mariana Varela, the images of the wedding of the misses

CANCER IS STILL AN EMERGENCY In Italy, last year, around 377 thousand new cases of cancer were diagnosed, more than a thousand a day and 181,330 deaths (Source: Cancer numbers in Italy, 2021 edited by Airtum, Aiom, Siapec and Passi). Numbers that must make us reflect and act: both on the prevention and on the research front where numerous players operate, including Airc – Airc Foundation for Cancer Research which from 6 to 16 November is activated for the usual Research Days , one of the many appointments of the Foundation which, in 2022 alone, has allocated 136 million euros to around 5,000 researchers. Multiple initiatives from the distribution of 'I Cioccolatini della Ricerca' (Saturday 12 November in over 1,800 squares distributed by volunteers and also available on and in Banco Bpm branches) to the solidarity number 45521 (activated by the main landline and mobile telephone operators Tim, Vodafone, Wind Tre, Fastweb, Tiscali, Twt, Iliad, Coop Voce, Convergenze and PosteMobile).

FOCUS ON COLON CANCER Among the emergencies on which to focus part of the efforts is colon cancer. «In Italy in 2020» continues the teacher, «there were about 43,700 new diagnoses of this cancer, with a slight prevalence of the male gender (23,400 men and 20,300 women). While in 2021, an estimated 21,700 deaths and 513,500 people are struggling after a diagnosis of colorectal cancer.

RISK FACTORS. The data show that only 10% of cases are determined by genetic factors or pathologies: 'The main risk conditions consist of hereditary susceptibilities attributable to syndromes in which genetic mutations have been identified and familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) and the syndrome by Lynch.' Lifestyles and nutrition take the lion's share. 'The excessive consumption of red meat and sausages, refined flours and sugars, overweight and reduced physical activity, smoking and excess alcohol' end up in the dock, explains Luigi Ricciardiello. Particular attention is paid to obesity. 'A recent study conducted in the United States shows how this cancer is growing strongly even between 20 and 49 years of age with a 200% increase in cases in the 20-29 age group in the period 1990-2016', continues the researcher. «It is mainly due to a growing obesity among young people».

THE DIET OF THE HAPPY INTESTINY But food can also become a good ally. Ricciardiello's studies, carried out between Dallas and Bologna with the contribution of Airc, have shown that natural substances taken with the diet protect against the development of colon cancer. In particular, the latest project in chronological order is focused on the study of the effects of the combination of some molecules, mainly including Omega-3 fatty acids, on the key mechanisms underlying the onset of colorectal cancer in order to be able to prevent and treat it more effectively. Once again the Mediterranean diet seems to help life. «Other protective factors, in fact, are represented by the consumption of fruit and vegetables, unrefined carbohydrates, vitamin D and calcium. But also from the administration of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for a long time. But also from taking Omega-3s for their proven anti-inflammatory action».

WHAT ARE THE FIRST SYMPTOMS In its early stages, colorectal cancer is generally asymptomatic and 'it is also for this reason that it is advisable to undergo screening especially between the ages of 50 and 70' explains the doctor. However, there are some symptoms that may lead you to consult a specialist doctor: blood loss from the rectum or the presence of blood in the stool; protracted diarrhea or constipation, iron deficiency anemia (iron deficiency anemia), abdominal pain.