Colon Cancer: New Study Shows Dietary Changes Can Shrink Tumors

Colon cancer in the United States accounted for 7.9% of new cancer cases in 2022, and 8.6% of deaths, according to the National Cancer Institute. An estimated 52,580 people will die from colon cancer this year.

By Jennifer Margulis | The Epoch Times

Quentin Oliver Lee, age 34, died of colon cancer on December 1, 2022. A Broadway actor and singer, Lee announced that he was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer just six months ago.

Lee’s devastating and untimely death comes on the heels of bad news: Rates of colorectal cancers, especially among young people, have been rising in the United States and other countries in the industrialized world, according to a recent American Cancer Society report.

Colon cancer in the United States accounted for 7.9% of new cancer cases in 2022, and 8.6% of deaths, according to the National Cancer Institute. An estimated 52,580 people will die from colon cancer this year.

The good news is that we have a growing body of evidence—both high-quality scientific studies and patients’ personal experiences—that shows that diet and lifestyle changes can effectively stop cancerous cells in their tracks.

One of the most recent, and promising of these studies was performed on mice by a team of ten researchers at the University of Michigan.

The study, “Dysregulated Amino Acid Sensing Drives Colorectal Cancer Growth and Metabolic Reprogramming Leading to Chemoresistance,” was published in November in the journal Gastroenterology. For this study, scientists investigated how low-protein diets affected colon cancer cell growth.

More specifically, they studied something called mTORC1 activation in animal and human tissue.

What is mTORC1?

mTORC1 are molecules that are sensitive to nutrients and that are thought to be hyperactivated when people have cancer. These molecules are implicated in 70% of human cancers, including colorectal cancers.

Other animal studies have shown that inhibiting mTORC1 appears to also inhibit tumour growth. Some medications that interfere with mTORC1 signalling pathways have also been found to inhibit tumour growth. However, these cancer-blocking pharmaceuticals are “limited in use,” according to Medical News Today, both because of their negative immune-suppressing side effects and because of the return of tumours once the drugs are stopped.

At the same time, a 2015 study showed that restricting protein intake decreased mTORC1 tumours in mice.

That study, which was done by an international team of researchers from the United States and Italy, mentioned that “reduced dietary protein intake and intermittent fasting (IF) are both linked to healthy longevity in rodents, and are effective in inhibiting cancer growth.” The scientists hypothesized that the reason may be the “down-regulation” of the mTORC1 pathways. Although the study focused on breast cancer, the authors concluded that their work suggested that protein restriction “may represent a highly translatable option for treatment not only of cancer, but also other age-related diseases.”

Restricting Protein to Inhibit Colon Cancer

For this new research, the scientists found that in the presence of amino acids mTORC1 activation was higher. They then examined how colon cancer tumours in mice would respond to two weeks on a protein-restricted diet followed by four weeks of chemotherapy.

Mice are usually fed a diet that is 21% protein. For this experiment, the researchers fed the mice diets that were just four percent protein.

They discovered what they had expected: Mice fed low-protein diets had less mTORC1 activation and less tumour growth than controls.

More specifically, reducing the intake of two amino acids—leucine and cystine—seemed to signal nutritionally to deactivate mTORC1.

This effect is not just in mice. When the scientists tested human colon cancer, they found that the samples with the most genetic markers of mTORC1 tended to have the worst outcomes.

Starving Cancer

Cancer cells grow exponentially. In order to proliferate so quickly, they need nutrients. Some of the nutrients they need are synthesized inside the cells themselves, but other nutrients—including amino acids—come from a person’s diet.

The reason why a low-protein diet appears to be effective in limiting tumour growth in the colon is that depriving the colon cancer cells of protein essentially starves them.

“Feeding or starving cancer cells is … complicated,” Jeffrey Nelson, surgical director of The Centre for Inflammatory Bowel and Colorectal Diseases at the Mercy Medical Centre in Baltimore, Maryland, told Medical News Today. “But this research shows that depriving certain amino acids influences the mTORC1 pathways leading to cell death.”

The China Study

Dr. T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D., a Cornell-trained biochemist, and director of the Centre for Nutrition Studies, has published over 350 research papers, most of which are peer-reviewed. In his landmark book, “The China Study,” which was first published in 2005, Campbell and his son Thomas, a medical doctor, explored why the protein fad diets, so popular in the 1970s (and beyond), are not optimal for human health.

Instead, the research presented in the book, which was based partly on several longitudinal nutrition studies of large numbers of adults and their families that were conducted in China and Taiwan from 1983 to 1990, showed that a mostly plant-based diet, one that was lower in protein and higher in dietary fibre and whole foods, appeared to lead to the best health outcomes. A 55-minute film, “The China Study Documentary, ”is also available on the T. Colin Campbell Centre for Nutrition Studies’ YouTube channel.

People in China who lived in places where the regular diet was one that included smaller amounts of animal protein were less likely to get diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.

Chris Beats Cancer

Chris Wark was diagnosed with Stage III colon cancer when he was just 26 years old. After undergoing colon surgery to remove the cancer, he made the controversial decision not to follow his conventional doctors’ recommendations to do chemotherapy. Instead, Wark turned to nutritional and alternative healing, a journey that he documents in his bestselling 2018 book, Chris Beats Cancer.

As detailed in the book, Wark’s cousin Jeff was also diagnosed with colon cancer: Stage IV. Jeff was told that the cancer was not curable. With chemotherapy, he could live up to two years. Without it, he would die in six months, according to the doctors. Although Jeff’s mother urged him to talk to his cousin, Jeff told his mother that he and Chris were very different people and that he “didn’t buy into fads or self-help books.” 

Although the surgery to remove the cancer appeared to be successful, chemotherapy made him sick and depressed. Tumours began growing in his liver and abdomen. Jeff died three months after his diagnosis. He was 49 years old.

But the idea of poisoning himself back to health using chemotherapy made no sense to Wark. Instead, he adopted an all-whole foods organic raw diet, found a holistic oncologist who was willing to treat him using a natural and non-toxic approach, and also sought out alternative treatments, including counselling, acupuncture, and chiropractic care. Nearly two decades later, Wark is cancer-free, the father of two, the author of three bestselling books, and the host of a popular podcast.

“I eliminated everything in my life that may have contributed to my [cancer],” Wark told The Epoch Times.

The Take-Aways

“Cancer cells are not alien invaders,” Wark reminds his readers. “Cancer cells are your cells with your DNA. Cancer is not just in you, it is you. The presence of cancerous tumours is the result of a breakdown in the normal functioning of your body … Cancer is a condition created by the body that the body can resolve, if given the proper nutrition and care.”

The University of Michigan research suggests that dietary and lifestyle changes—limiting protein intake as well as restricting calories—may help thwart cancer growth and also make chemotherapy more effective.

Whether you choose a conventional treatment plan or an alternative one, it appears that in order to stop colon cancer from proliferating in your body, limiting your exposure to known carcinogens (which include glyphosate, some volatile organic compounds, and certain pharmaceutical medications and injections), along with eating a lower protein diet, will help you take back your health.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Collective Spark. CS Health welcomes professional discussion and friendly debate. To submit an opinion piece, please see comment section below.

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How Do Cancer Cells Behave Differently From Healthy Ones?

About the Author

Jennifer Margulis, Ph.D., is an award-winning journalist and author of “Your Baby, Your Way: Taking Charge of Your Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Parenting Decisions for a Happier, Healthier Family.” A Fulbright awardee and mother of four, she has worked on a child survival campaign in West Africa, advocated for an end to child slavery in Pakistan on prime-time TV in France, and taught post-colonial literature to non-traditional students in inner-city Atlanta.

Learn more about her at

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