Dr. Harlan Rich, medical director of the Brown Medicine Endoscopy Center in East Providence, was interviewed on The Rhode Show about how colorectal cancer screening saves lives, and the importance of diet and lifestyle.


Regular screening, beginning at age 45-50 (or earlier for people at increased risk), is the key to decreasing death from colon cancer, which is the second leading cause of death in the United States. Screening can find cancers when they are treatable or curable, and detect and remove small growths, called polyps, on the lining of the colon before they become cancerous and spread to nearby tissue.


According to studies published by the National Institutes of Health, dietary exposures and obesity play a major role in the development of this type of cancer. The standard American diet (or “Western” diet), characterized by a higher intake of red and processed meats, added sugar, and refined grains, has been strongly linked with colorectal cancer. In contrast, diets rich in fruits, vegetables, fish, poultry and whole-grain products are associated with a lower risk.

Avoiding pre-packaged processed foods, high sugar drinks, and “fast food” can help with weight loss and reduce the risk of colon cancer. Americans consume more than 13% of daily calories in the form of added sugars alone. Eastern, Asian or Mediterranean diets, which feature whole grains like brown rice, barley and buckwheat, plant-based foods, seafood, fresh fruit, nuts, and healthy fats like olive oil are recommended.

Overweight and obesity are directly related to an increased risk for colon cancer. Increased physical activity and weight loss are both associated with a lower risk.


Make an appointment at the Brown Medicine Endoscopy Center located at 62 Amaral Street in East Providence or visit http://www.brownmed.org/endoscopy/ to learn more.

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