Food NOT Chemo Holds ‘Cure’ For Colon Cancer

food not chemo

19th March 2015

By  Sayer Ji

Contributing Writer for Wake Up World

When chemo fails, or worse, feeds the cancer, the immense healing power of food may be the only hope left.  

Colon cancer is one of the world’s most prevalent and lethal forms of cancer and is believed to be driven primarily by the Western diet. It has been estimated that one million people around the world are diagnosed with colon cancer, and 500,000 die from it, each year. Conventional treatment approaches continue to do very little to reduce mortality, and this is believed to be due to the presence of a  subpopulation of colon tumor cells known as cancer stem cells  (CSCs), or tumor-initiating cells (TIC), that are resistant to chemotherapy and therefore contribute to relapse. In fact, chemotherapy not only fails to destroy the cells at the root of colon cancer but may also induce cancer stem cell like properties (stemness) within colon tumor cells that otherwise would not express them, the result of which is to make the post-treatment, surviving colon cancer cells far more malignant.[1]

Radiotherapy has also been found to induce  stemness  in cancers of the breast (up to  30x  increased  tumorigenicity), indicating that both chemotherapy and  radiotherapy  — the purported ‘cure’ of conventional cancer care  — may worsen the disease.

Given the bleak situation, interest in cancer stem cell targeting therapies of natural origin has increased dramatically in the past few years. In a new study published in  Nutrition  titled, “Colon  carcinogenesis: influence of Western diet-induced obesity and targeting stem cells using dietary bioactive compounds,” researchers identified the Western lifestyle and diet as a primary driver of colon cancer incidence:

“Accumulating evidence suggests that lifestyle factors are one of the predominant components that modulate susceptibility to colon cancer [12,13]. It is a concerning fact that the highest incidence rates of colon cancer are observed in developed nations, including the United States [14]. Moreover, risk for colon cancer is elevated within one generation in individuals who migrated from developing countries to developed countries. Colon cancer rates are rapidly rising in developing nations and could be due to adoption of several features of the Western lifestyle, as previously reviewed [14]. Diets rich in red and processed meats, refined starches, sugar, and saturated and trans-fatty acids but poor in fruits, vegetables, fiber, u-3 fatty acids, calcium, vitamin D, and whole grains are closely associated with an increased risk for colon cancer. Other main features of the Western lifestyle, such as excess body mass and sedentary behaviors, are also strongly associated with higher risk for developing colon cancer [14–16].”

The researchers emphasized the special role of diet in colon cancer in particular: “Diet contributes to 20% to 42% of all human cancers and  50% to 90% in colon cancer  [24].” [emphasis added]

According to the study, the primary biological mechanism by which the Western diet drives colon cancer is through increasing insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) levels, decreasing  IGF-binding  proteins, which in turn increases bioactive (free)  IGF-1  levels. This results in a complex cascade of molecular events consistent with cancer initiation and promotion.

Of course, if the Western diet is the primary driver of colon  carcinogenesis, the best preventive approach is to replace it by a diet much higher in organically produced, high vegetable/fiber, high non-oxidized fat (richer in omega 3 and natural saturated fats), and anti-inflammatory ingredients. But when these modifications either are impossible to implement (think ‘food deserts’) or fail to take hold early enough or after colon tumors and invasive cancer has already taken root, a more targeted and perhaps ‘heroic’ approach is needed but that is not reliant on chemotherapy.

According to the researchers,

“The search for a nontoxic chemotherapeutic regimen is fueled by  epidemiologic  studies that show correlation between plant-based diets and the reduced risk for various cancers [30].”

Their study focused on the following natural compounds as potential chemotherapy alternatives:

The study identified these compounds as having potentially potent anti-colon cancer properties due in part to their ability to interfere with elevated  IGF-1  levels, as well as ameliorating many Western diet-induced downstream effects, such as inhibiting the cancer stem cell self-renewal pathway known as the  Wnt  pathway.

The remarkable thing about these  phytocompounds  is that they are found in commonly consumed food ingredients.  Curcumin  is the primary  polyphenol  in the spice root turmeric, which is consumed the world over.  Resveratrol  is found in many common foods, including grapes, peanuts and chocolate.  Lycopene  is found in commonly consumed produce items such as watermelon, tomatoes and guava fruit.  Grape seed, while not commonly consumed outside supplement form, is found in grapes and is therefore an easily accessible  nutraceutical  in most places in the world.

A hidden lesson here may be that instead of waiting until after one is diagnosed with a serious health condition such as colon cancer it would make sense to incorporate smaller, culinary doses of these beneficial compounds on a daily basis as a food-as-preventive-medicine approach versus taking heroic ‘drug like’ doses of the compounds later as ‘chemotherapy’ alternatives. While the latter choice should at least be made available to those whose prognosis with chemotherapy or surgery alone looks bleak, it would behoove medical professionals and their patients to take seriously this preliminary research by using non-toxic dietary modifications and/or therapeutic concentrations of these bioactive food ingredients early on as a preventive medicine strategy.

To learn more about how food-based medicine may help to  overcome cancer stem cells, you can read the following articles:

”‹To learn more about the causes and natural/integrative solutions for colon cancer take a look at our extensive database section on the topic: Colon Cancer Research.

Article ”‹References

[1] Touil Y, Igoudjil W, Corvaisier M, Dessein AF, Vandomme J, Monté D, Stechly L, Skrypek N, Langlois C, Grard G, Millet G, Leteurtre E, Dumont P, Truant S, Pruvot FR, Hebbar M, Fan F, Ellis LM, Formstecher P, Van Seuningen I, Gespach C, Polakowska R, Huet G. Colon cancer cells escape 5FU chemotherapy-induced cell death by entering stemness and quiescence associated with the c-Yes/YAP axis. Clin Cancer Res. 2014 Feb 15;20(4):837-46. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-13-1854. Epub 2013 Dec 9. PubMed PMID: 24323901.

Further articles by Sayer Ji:

About the author:

Sayer Ji1 Lime Juice Could Save 100s of Thousands of Lives Each Year

Sayer Ji  is an author, educator, Steering  Committee Member  of the  Global GMO-Free Coalition (GGFC),  advisory board member of the National Health Federation, and the founder of  –  an open access, evidence-based resource supporting natural and integrative modalities.  His writings have been published and referenced widely in print and online, including Truthout,, The Journal of Gluten Sensitivity, New York Times and The Well Being Journal.

In 1995 Sayer received a BA degree in Philosophy from Rutgers University, where he studied under the American philosopher Dr. Bruce W. Wilshire, with a focus on the philosophy of science.  In 1996, following residency at the Zen Mountain Monastery in upstate New York, he embarked on a 5 year journey of service as a counsellor-teacher and wilderness therapy specialist for various organizations that serve underprivileged and/or adjudicated populations. Since 2003, Sayer has served as a patient advocate and an educator and consultant for the natural health and wellness field.

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