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By Karen Alexander, Oncology Wellness Specialist


The Link Between a High-Insulin Diet to Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in both men and women. In 2017, there were 39,910 cases of rectal cancer diagnosed in the United States.

In previous bulletins, we have discussed the importance of lifestyle when it comes to colorectal cancer prevention. In a recent blog written by Dr. Babita Jyoti, she reviewed how Stage III colon cancer patients who followed the American Cancer Society's Nutrition and Physical Activity Guidelines for Cancer Survivors upon diagnosis had improved survival.

Last month, a group of researchers published an article that links diets high in insulin load to stage III colon cancer recurrence and survival. Researchers performed a study of 1,023 patients with resected stage III colon cancer enrolled in an adjuvant chemotherapy trial. These patients completed questionnaires focused on dietary and lifestyle habits four months after surgery and six months after completion of adjuvant chemotherapy. With all this information, researchers calculated the dietary insulin load (DIL), which is the level of insulin produced by the body in response to food.

Patients who consumed a high-insulin diet were at a higher risk of cancer recurrence and mortality. One would expect that by eating a prudent or healthy diet, it could have a protective effect that would reduce the damage by eating foods that generate a high insulin load, but scientists found that the insulin effect occurs regardless of whether or not the patient is consuming a healthy or a not so healthy diet (Western diet). Scientists also found that patients who were obese and had a high insulin load (due to their eating habits) had worse consequences such as a rapid recurrence of colon cancer, the presence of new colon cancer, or higher overall mortality rate.

If you want to lower your risk of developing cancer, then aim for a diet high in non-starchy vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, legumes, nuts, some fruits, and good fats and limit your consumption of fruit juices, sweet beverages, white flours, sugar and sweet treats.

The recipe of the week is courtesy of Native Sun: Cheesy Broccoli Quinoa Muffins

1 cup uncooked quinoa
2 cup vegetable broth
Coconut oil for greasing pan
2 cup finely chopped broccoli
1/3 cup instant oats 
1/4 nutritional yeast
1 cup crumbled or shredded cheese of choice, such as Miyoko’s Creamery or Daiya
1 teaspoon garlic powder 
Salt and pepper, to taste

Rinse the quinoa with a fine mesh strainer and add to a medium stock pot with vegetable broth.
Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cover for 15 minutes.
Remove from heat, keep covered for 10 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400 F. 
Grease a baking sheet with coconut oil and add broccoli. Bake for 15 minutes.
To a large bowl add the cooked quinoa (saving the rest for another use), broccoli, oats, nutritional yeast, cheese, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. 
Grease a 6-muffin tin with coconut oil and evenly distribute quinoa mixture between cups. 
Bake in 400 F oven for 20 minutes until golden brown. 
Remove from baking pan when muffins have cooled by running a knife around the edge of each muffin. 
Place a large plate or small baking sheet on top of the muffin tin and flip so that muffins are upside down and will slide out of the tin. Leave them like this, or flip them, if you choose.

Enjoy your weekend,

Karen Alexander, BSND, MSCN

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