Colon Cancer – The Maori Factor

Research by a New Zealand University team into colon cancer has uncovered a very interesting phenomenon that sheds light on why colon cancer may be non-existent in the Maori race.  Naturally this discovery created a spin-off from the original study because if the reason why the indigenous Maori people have avoided colorectal cancer could be found,  then this information would become significant in the constant fight to prevent colon cancer.


Initially researchers looked at The Maori race’s diet, and they discovered that their abundant consumption of both red and purple berries, along with fresh fruits formed a higher proportion of their diet than it did with non-indigenous New Zealanders.    Based upon common practice, researchers were aware of the anti-oxidant value of fruits consumed by the Maori, and they assumed that non-Maori people gained the same amount of anti-oxidants from other fruits and vegetables in which they consumed.   This assumption appeared to cancel out any benefit the Maoris would gain by having a diet high in red and purple fruits and vegetables.  However, once researchers decided to check anti-oxidant levels individually, they then found out that anti-oxidant levels deferred quite significantly between Maori and non-Maori New Zealanders.


The results of the independent checks of anti-oxidant levels across a wide range of fruits and vegetables discovered that rather than these levels being the same, as commonly thought at the start of the experiments, they vary quite widely.    For instance fruits with red or purple skins like berries, plums, red apples and even red skinned sweet potato have around four times the anti-oxidant levels of other fruits and vegetables.   At this point the entire project started to make sense and the higher levels of ant-oxidants in a traditional Maori diet began to point to clues or a hypothesis as to why Maori have such low levels of colon cancer within the race.


The research continues today but based upon these findings there is strong reason to eat more strawberries, raspberries, redcurrants, cherries, plums, red apples and sweet potato in our daily diets. In fact any fruit or vegetable with a red or purple skin contains around four times the anti-oxidant level of other fruits and vegetables and therefore should be utilized in our diets for anti-aging and many beneficial health reasons.


Somebody is bound to raise the question of whether frozen is as a good as fresh fruit. Here I can only give a personal opinion and state that whenever we cook, or freeze, foodstuffs we change the chemical make-up of the food and therefore it is unlikely to be the same as eating it fresh and uncooked.   But, if frozen is all that is available,  then some nutrients – anti-oxidant food, is better than nothing.

Caregivers Play Key Role in Disease Management of Older Colon Cancer Patients

Colon cancer patients who are 65 and older may benefit from a caregiver’s involvement, and caregivers may ultimately have a major impact on patients’ disease management, according to a survey of oncologists commissioned by the Alliance for Aging Research.


Ninety percent of oncologists feel that caregivers have a moderate to major impact on the decision-making process. Unfortunately, only about 64 percent of colon cancer patients in this age group have caregivers’ support.


More than half of oncologists who agree that colon cancer patients 65 and older have a more difficult time managing their disease than younger patients.    These oncologists also agree that older patients are generally less proactive about researching available treatment options.   Seventy-seven percent said that such patients experienced better disease outcomes with a caregiver’s involvement due to increased communication and condition – treatment education.   Additionally, caregivers play an important role in providing emotional support, participating in doctors’ visits and in decisions about disease management options and providing transportation to and from appointments.


“It is clear that caregivers are key to ensuring that colon cancer patients 65 and older receive the best care,” said Daniel Perry, executive director of Alliance for Aging Research. “Since managing colon cancer can be a complicated and confusing process especially for the aging population, a caregiver, whether a spouse, child, friend or neighbor, should be actively involved.”


“Crossing Jordan” star Miguel Ferrer, who lost his father, José Ferrer, to colon cancer, is partnering with the Alliance for Aging Research in a program called “Caring for the Aging,” to educate colon cancer patients and caregivers about the importance of active involvement in the treatment of the disease. This awareness program is sponsored by sanofi-aventis.


“The involvement of my stepmother helped ease my father’s decision-making process as he went down a difficult path,” Ferrer said. “I encourage all caregivers and family members to become actively involved and ask the right questions to ensure the best possible outcomes for their loved one.”