Colorectal cancer is now the second most common cause of cancer death in the world.
This type of cancer usually begins as a ” polyp, ” so another name for colon polyps is “colorectal polyps.”
The type of colon polyp called adenoma is a known precursor to colorectal cancer.
While in some cases small colon polyps will turn into colon cancer over time, most colon polyps remain small, non-cancerous, and generally harmless.
But how common is it to have colon polyps?
Colon polyps are considered “very common” in adults over the age of 60, who have a 25 to 30 percent chance of having a polyp.
However, they are much less common among younger adults, such as those in their 20s and 30s.
Doctors recommend adults over 50 to visit their doctors for regular colorectal polyps screenings, as finding a colon polyp in its early stages greatly limits the chances of complications.
Certain lifestyle changes can also help reduce the risk of developing colon polyps and colorectal cancer, or to aid recovery, including an anti-inflammatory diet, quitting smoking, exercising, getting enough calcium and vitamin D, and maintaining a healthy weight.
What are colon polyps?
A colon polyp (or colorectal polyp) is an extra piece of tissue, or a small group of cells, that grows on the lining of the colon.
Colorectal polyps can grow anywhere in the colon, also known as the large intestine or large intestine, where solid waste moves before leaving the body, usually forming on the left side of the colon and / or in the rectum.
The rectum, where stool is stored before being excreted, begins at the end of the large intestine and ends at the anus.
Types of colon polyps
There are two main types of colon polyps:
- Non-neoplastic polyps.
- Neoplastic polyps (including tubular adenomas / adenomas).
Non-neoplastic colon polyps generally do not become cancerous.
These include : hyperplastic polyps, inflammatory polyps, and hamartomatous polyps .
Neoplastic polyps are more likely to become cancerous, although they do not always do so. These include adenomas and jagged types.
Neoplastic polyps are generally larger. Determining the size of the colon polyp is an important part of the diagnosis because larger polyps have a higher risk of causing cancer.
An adenoma (a type of neoplastic polyp) is a tumor of glandular tissue.
According to some Cancer Institutions “An adenoma is a polyp made of tissue that looks very much like the normal lining of your colon, although it is different in several important ways when viewed under a microscope.”
It is estimated that two-thirds of colon polyps are of the precancerous type called adenomas, and that only about five percent of adenomas progress to cancer.
Adenoma polyps are not a type of cancer, but they are considered precancerous (which means they can turn into cancer). However, most patients with adenoma polyps will never develop colon cancer.
Adenomas can have different growth patterns, including: tubular and villous, or a mixture of both (called tubulovillous adenomas).
Most are tubular adenomas that are small (less than half an inch), while others are larger adenomas with a downy growth pattern that are more likely to develop cancers in them.
When viewed under a microscope, polyps that are mildly abnormal are said to have low-grade dysplasia (mild or moderate), while polyps that are more abnormal and look more like cancer have high-grade (severe) dysplasia. .
Symptoms and Signs of Colon Polyps
Not all people with colon polyps will know they have them; in fact, most of the time colon polyps do not cause any noticeable symptoms.
When they do occur, the most common symptoms of colon polyps include:
- Rectal bleeding (which can also be caused by other conditions, not polyps, including hemorrhoids or tiny tears in the tissue of the anus). You may notice blood on your underwear or on toilet paper after a bowel movement.
- Blood in the stool or other changes in the color of the poop, such as dark red streaks or black stools.
- Stomach pain, abdominal cramps, and pain / tenderness near the intestines. Large colon polyps are more likely to cause pain because they can partially obstruct the intestine.
- Constipation or diarrhea .
- The development of anemia due to iron deficiency and prolonged bleeding. Bleeding from polyps can deplete your body of iron, making it difficult to produce red blood cells and carry oxygen throughout your body, leading to symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, and shortness of breath.
Causes and risk factors
Polyps in the colon develop when cells grow and divide abnormally within the colon or rectum, leading to growth that can become large enough to obstruct the intestine.
This can occur due to inflammation of the large intestine, or mutations in certain genes that cause cells to continue dividing when they normally would not.
Research suggests that colon polyps can cause and risk factors that can increase your chances of developing colon polyps include:
- Be over 50 years old.
- Be of the male sex. Studies indicate that men are more likely to have colon neoplasms and twice as likely to have advanced lesions compared to women.
- Having a personal and family history or history of colon polyps or colon cancer.
- Having leaky gut syndrome (also known as intestinal permeability) or gastrointestinal inflammatory problems or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), including ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease.
- Metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes People with type II diabetes have a 3-fold increase in colon cancer compared to non-diabetic people.
- Being obese or overweight. Studies in Germany, Japan, and the US have found a two to three times higher incidence of colorectal neoplasms in overweight individuals.
- Suffering from chronic inflammation, which includes high circulating levels of glucose and lipids that create an oxidative environment.
- Have higher serum concentrations of IGF-I (insulin-like growth factor) than the general public.
- Being a smoker.
- High alcohol consumption
- Lack of exercise / a sedentary lifestyle.
- Being African American (African Americans are also at higher risk of developing colon cancer).
- Being deficient in calcium and / or suffering from vitamin D deficiency.
Having a rare inherited disorder that affects the intestines and can cause colon polyps to form, including:
- Lynch syndrome (also known as hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer).
- Poliposis adenomatosa familiar (FAP).
- Gardner’s syndrome.
- MYH-associated polyposis (MAP).
- Peutz-Jeghers Syndrome or serrated polyposis syndrome.
Diagnosis of colon polyps
It is very important to visit your doctor if you begin to notice new symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloody stools, and unexplained changes in your bowel habits, especially if you are at increased risk of developing polyps or colorectal cancer (for example, if you have a family history of colon cancer).
Because you may have colon polyps and not experience any symptoms at all, you need regular screening tests after age 50, such as a colonoscopy.
Polyps are less likely to turn into cancer or cause other problems if they are removed when they are small and early.
A study called “The National Polyps Study” found that colonoscopic surveillance was associated with a 76 to 90 percent reduction in cancer incidence.
Screening tests used to diagnose colon polyps include:
Direct observation of the inner lining of the colon.
There are three types of colorectal endoscopy:
- Rigid sigmoidoscopy.
- La Sigmoidoscopia flexible.
- The Colonoscopy .
Rigid sigmoidoscopy allows examination of the lower six to eight inches of the large intestine. In flexible sigmoidoscopy, the lower fourth to third part of the colon is examined.
Neither rigid nor flexible sigmoidoscopy requires medication and can be done in the doctor’s office.
Colonoscopy or virtual colonoscopy, a minimally invasive test that uses a CT scan to view the inside of your colon. A colonoscopy is an outpatient test in which a long, thin flexible tube with a camera and light is inserted into the end of the colon.
The colon can also be indirectly examined using the barium enema radiography technique.
This test uses a barium solution to coat the lining of the colon. X-rays are taken, and unsuspected polyps are frequently found.
Although examination of stool for microscopic blood remains is an important test for disorders of the colon and rectum, a negative test result does NOT rule out the presence of polyps.
If a polyp is discovered, a complete inspection of the colon is necessary as in at least 30% of these patients more polyps will be discovered.
If your doctor finds a colon polyp during a screening exam (an exam of your intestine), he or she will discuss whether the poly may be cancerous or precancerous.
Are large colon polyps usually cancerous?
When it comes to the size of the colon polyp, the larger a polyp, the more likely it is cancerous.
This is especially true especially with neoplastic polyps, including adenomas and jagged types (which look flat under a microscope). But, to reiterate, having an adenoma does not mean that you will definitely develop cancer.
How long does it take for a colon polyp to turn into cancer?
It is believed that it can take around 10 years for a small adenoma to transform into a cancerous polyp.
Because cancer can take a long time to form, this is why early detection and removal of polyps are so helpful before it is too late.
Conventional treatment for colon polyps
To help prevent cancer from forming, doctors commonly remove colon polyps and test for them.
It is very important to perform a colonoscopy if in the past: you have had one or more adenomas in the last 5 years, you have had more than two adenomas of 0.4 inches (about 1 centimeter) or more, you have had more than 10 adenomas, or you have had a very large adenoma that was recently removed.
Colon polyps treatment generally includes:
Removal of adenoma polyps
If an adenoma is found during a colonoscopy, it is usually removed and biopsied to look for cancer.
Polyps can be removed in a number of ways, such as with a wire loop (polypectomy) or a fluid that is injected into the tissue around the polyp to separate it. A laparoscopy can also be done by inserting an instrument called a laparoscope into the intestine.
Surgery to remove a large adenoma
When an adenoma becomes too large to remove during colonoscopy, surgery may be needed to remove the adenoma.
Unfortunately, it is common for polyps that have been removed to return. About 30 percent of patients will develop new polyps after removal, so follow-up tests are recommended for the next 3-5 years.
There is some evidence that taking a daily aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can reduce the risk of new polyps, but this is not a guarantee and may contribute to side effects.
4 natural remedies for colon polyps symptoms
1. Healthy and anti-inflammatory diet
Before having screening tests to look for colon polyps (including a colonoscopy), it is recommended that you follow a low fiber diet for four to five days to reduce the chances of fiber remaining on the colon wall and blocking your view of the colon. doctor.
What type of diet is best if you have been diagnosed with colon polyps?
A healing diet that includes many antioxidants, fiber, and essential nutrients helps protect the large intestine and may be beneficial in fighting cancer.
Include lots of fruits and vegetables in your diet. Some of the best to protect against cancer include:
- Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower.
- Green leafy vegetables like kale and spinach.
- Sea vegetables.
- Citrus fruits.
Add other nutrient-dense and cancer-fighting foods to your diet, such as:
- Fresh herbs and spices such as : turmeric, ginger, basil, parsley or oregano, herbal teas, fresh green juices, green tea, matcha tea, cocoa powder, organic herb,
- Foods like: grass-fed meats, wild fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines, or herring, olive and coconut oil, nuts, seeds, and raw garlic.
- Cut down on added sugar, refined grains, foods with additives and preservatives, and alcohol. Drink no more than two alcoholic drinks a day for a man, or one drink a day for a woman.
- Increase Your Fiber Intake : Replace processed grains with 100 percent whole grains like quinoa, brown rice, buckwheat, and rolled oats.
Other high fiber foods often include : avocados, berries, apples and pears, coconut flakes, figs and dates, artichokes, winter squash or acorn squash, Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, beans and legumes, flax seeds and seeds. chia.
- Increase your intake of calcium (from food, not supplements), which studies suggest can help prevent recurrence of colon adenomas. Foods rich in calcium include: raw milk, yogurt, kefir, fermented cheeses, kale, sardines, broccoli, okra, beans, and almonds.
- Consider having more plant-based foods and eating less meat, especially processed meats such as: hot dogs, cold cuts, cold cuts like salami, cold cuts, or others.
Some studies have found that people who eat diets high in meat (especially processed and red meat) have higher rates of colon cancer.
2. Treatment of vitamin D deficiency
Research has shown that vitamin D can protect against colorectal cancer and is supportive of overall immune function.
For example, a 2014 study published in an oncology journal states that “several studies confirmed that increasing vitamin D 3 decreases the incidence of colon cancer, reduces the recurrence of polyps, and that sufficient levels of vitamin D 3 are associated with a better overall survival of colon cancer patients ”.
In the past, if you were at increased risk for colon polyps, your doctor might recommend taking 1,000 milligrams per day of calcium supplements for help with cancer prevention, depending on your age.
However, recent studies suggest that calcium supplements and vitamin D supplements may actually increase the risk of colon polyps.
Studies investigating the effects of calcium and vitamin D supplements in preventing polyps have generally yielded inconsistent results.
Recently, a randomized clinical trial tested the use of calcium and vitamin D supplements over the course of 10 years in the prevention of colorectal polyps.
The results showed that 6 to 10 years after starting supplementation, participants had a higher incidence of tooth polyps if they took calcium, alone or with vitamin D. However, no such link was found with vitamin D taken by itself. herself.
Given this recent finding, it is now suggested that adults who have, or have had, precancerous serrated polyps, particularly women and those who smoke, should avoid taking calcium and vitamin D supplements.
A better way to prevent vitamin D deficiency is by encouraging your body to naturally produce its own vitamin D, which happens when you expose your skin to sunlight for about 15-20 minutes.
If you live in a cold climate or don’t spend a lot of time outdoors, talk to your doctor about whether you should take supplements.
3. Stay active and maintain a healthy weight
Staying physically active and exercising regularly not only helps you maintain a healthy body weight, but it also has anti-inflammatory effects.
Exercise can even protect against colon polyps and colorectal cancer due to mechanisms such as:
- Reduction of inflammation.
- Improvement in circulation.
- Support in the immune system.
- Improvement in digestive function.
- Reducing the stress .
- Prevention of diabetes and obesity.
Certain studies have even found that exercising regularly can reduce your risk of colon cancer by an astonishing 40 percent to 50 percent.
A sedentary lifestyle and being overweight or obese are linked to an increased risk of colon and rectal cancer, so find some type of exercise that you enjoy and that you can stay consistent with, whether it’s waking up, jogging, swimming, walking cycling, lifting weights, another.
You can work to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight by eating an anti-inflammatory diet, managing stress, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly.
4. Reduce chronic inflammation
Inflammation of the intestine, which may or may not lead to inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), can increase your risk of polyps and growths that can turn cancerous over time.
Some steps you can take to reduce inflammation and improve digestive health include:
- Eating a therapeutic diet You may need to work with a dietitian / functional medicine doctor if you have IBD to help heal your condition on a specific type of diet.
- Manage stress and get enough rest and sleep (7-9 hours a night for most adults).
- Stop smoking and drinking alcohol excessively.
- Take supplements, such as vitamin D, probiotics, and omega-3 fish oil supplements.
- Prevent nutrient deficiencies, such as calcium.
- Eliminate certain foods if necessary, such as: gluten, dairy products, some FODMAPs, caffeine, and alcohol.
To help control inflammation. Your doctor may recommend that you start taking aspirin daily to reduce your overall risk of colon cancer. There have been mixed results on how effective aspirin is in the situation.
Talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of using aspirin or an NSAID drug for added protection against colon conditions.
How to prevent colon polyps?
Although it’s not always possible to prevent them, here are the ways that research suggests it can help reduce the risk of colon polyps:
- Give up smoking. To help you quit smoking, talk to your doctor about helpful interventions; talk to a therapist; or start an online program that specializes in quitting smoking.
- Eat an anti-inflammatory diet that includes lots of vegetables, fiber, and antioxidant-rich foods.
- Treat calcium and vitamin D deficiencies by eating calcium-rich foods and exposing your skin to sunlight.
- Avoid excessive alcohol consumption.
- Limit the amount of processed meat and red meat you eat.
- Take steps to maintain a healthy weight, such as eating right, staying active, exercising, and practicing mindful eating.
Talk to your doctor about prevention options and genetic screening if you have a family history of colon polyps or an inherited disorder that causes colon polyps.
Key points about colon polyps
A colon polyp (or colorectal polyp) is an extra piece of tissue, or a small group of cells, that grows on the lining of the colon.
The type of colon polyp called adenoma is a known precursor to colorectal cancer, yet most colon polyps remain small, non-cancerous, and generally harmless.
Many people do not experience any noticeable symptoms of colon polyps, but when they do occur, they can include: rectal bleeding, bloody stools, abdominal pain, constipation, and diarrhea.
Risk factors for colon polyps include:
- Having a family history of a personal history of polyps and / or colorectal cancer.
- Being a man.
- Be over 50 years old.
- Being overweight or obese.
- Have inflammatory bowel disease.
- Experience chronic inflammation and be African American.
4 Natural Remedies for Colon Polyps Symptoms:
- Eat an anti-inflammatory diet.
- Treat vitamin D deficiency.
- Stay active and maintain a healthy weight.
- Reduce chronic inflammation, such as quitting smoking, and treating nutrient deficiencies.