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It has been well known for many years that colon cancers almost always begin as benign polyps. Although polyps can usually be removed via a colonoscopy, this is an invasive procedure that has a small risk of complications. Preventing polyps in the first place would be the most effective and safe way to avoid colon cancer.
Aspirin and Ibuprofen have been shown to reduce polyp formation but the rate of side effects, such as intestinal bleeding, is likely to be greater than the likelihood of developing a polyp in the first place. Other strategies, such as high fiber diets or calcium supplements, have failed to perform as anticipated in recent studies.
New evidence suggests that some common dietary ingredients may turn out to be the most effective means for safely preventing colon polyps. Data recently published demonstrated that two common herbal substances, curcumin and quercetin, when taken together, resulted in regression of colon polyps in people who already had colon polyps.
Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, is found in Asian curries. The amount of curcumin used in the study, 480 mg 3 times daily, was more than anyone would be likely to get from just eating curry. A nutritional supplement would be required. However, it is possible that smaller amounts, such as would be found in a curry-rich diet, still offer some protection.
Quercetin, which is found in onions, was the second ingredient. The dose of quercetin used was 20 mg, 3 times daily, a dose similar to what someone would get if they ate onions on a daily basis.
Some loose stools and/or nausea occurred during the first few days of taking these supplements in a few patients, but these side effects disappeared in less than a week. Turmeric has been reported to have blood thinning effects. So, if you take aspirin, Plavix, Fragmin, Lovenox, heparin, Ticlid, Coumadin or any other anticoagulant/antiplatelet medicine, check with your doctor before taking Turmeric. There are no known drug interactions for quercetin, but it may rarely cause headache and tingling of the extremities.
Preliminary studies have shown that men who consumed more vitamin D in their diet each day were less likely to develop colon polyps, and men who consumed the most of the vitamin (more than 645 units) daily reduced their risk the most. Vitamin D is found in fortified milk, salmon, cod liver oil, sardines, and mackerel. Spending time in the sun also helps the body produce vitamin D.
Our Recommendations to prevent colon polyps: Take a curcumin supplement, such as Jarrow Curcumin 95, that contains 500 mg of curcumin, 3 times daily with meals. Eat onions on a daily basis and also take a quercetin supplement containing at least 100 mg of quercetin once daily. People aged 19-50 need 200 units of Vitamin D daily (in either their diet or in supplements) for adequate nutrition, while people between 51 and 69 should get 400-800 unitss each day. People 70 and older need 600 – 1000 units of vitamin D each day. The Institute of Medicine’s Food and Nutrition Board recommends an upper limit of 2,000 IUs of vitamin D for most children and adults.