Most people who have been diagnosed with colon cancer will ask themselves and their doctors what can be done to help the outcome. Few will be foresighted enough to ask what behaviors they have created in their children that will create the same outcome as the parent.
Cancer is what we refer to as a long latency disease. In other words, you don’t light up your first cigarette today and get lung cancer tomorrow. It takes decades for the abuse to our bodies to manifest into the chronic diseases of today. Maybe this is why chronic diseases are so hard to overcome with short-latency approaches like drugs…?
There are countless examples of behaviors in youth that have later impacts on chronic disease. Just a few include:
- Soy intake as a teen cuts breast cancer rates as an adult by more than half
- Sunlight exposure as a teen cuts prostate cancer rates in half
- Sunlight exposure as a teen cuts breast cancer rates by 35%
This is, of course, merely the short list. There is clearly enough evidence to say that critical points in cancer development actually occur during our youth, likely starting as earlier as conception (if not before!).
This particular study adds to the list of studies that demonstrates teenage behaviors contribute greatly to long term colon cancer rates. In particular:
- Highest intakes of vitamin A lowered risk 18%
- Highest vegetable lowered risk 19%
- Highest intakes of calcium lowered risk 17%
- Highest intakes of vitamin C 17%
- Fruit 16%
- Milk 22% (more on this later)
- Higher total fat increased risk 15%
- Re meat increased risk 31%
- Processed meat 24%
Regular readers will know that I am no fan of dairy, so I would, of course, not jump on the recommendation that teenagers should be drinking more milk. It may very well be that the protective effect may have been related to the calcium in the dairy or the replacement of dairy in the diet for something more toxic like soda.
Overall, though, you should clearly see that decisions that our teens make can have a massive impact on their long term health. What lifestyle habits are you teaching your kids?