Can Lowering Your CRP Reduce Your Colon Cancer Risk?

What the Blood Test Can Tell Us About Inflammation

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C-reactive protein (CRP) is a substance produced by the liver in response to inflammation. A high level of CRP in the blood is an indication of inflammation which can be caused by any number of conditions from infection to cancer.

Myths and Misconceptions About CRP and Cancer

While there are those who suggest that lowering your CRP can help you avoid things like colon cancer, that kind of assertion is incredibly misleading.

While a high CRP may be caused by the inflammation associated with cancer, it would be overly simplistic to suggest that lowering your CRP would lower your cancer risk. It doesn't work that way.

With that being said, chronic inflammation caused by inflammatory bowel diseases, such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, can increase the risk of colon cancer. But, even then, it is still unclear whether you can reduce your cancer risk by reducing inflammation with things like aspirin or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. The mechanisms of the disease are complex, and a CRP test only provides you a means to measure inflammation. It is not a tool to prevent cancer.

As such, we need to focus on how unhealthy behaviors trigger inflammation and how this inflammation can contribute to everything from heart disease and Alzheimer's to arthritis and certain types of cancer.

Here are four ways to do so:

Exercise Regularly

Regular physical activity can reduce inflammation, according to a 2017 study from the University of California San Diego School of Medicine. All it takes is 20 minutes of exercise four to five times per week to decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease, improve metabolism, reduce weight, and strengthen the heart, muscles, and bones.

Any form of moderate to intense exercise will do. Walking briskly, running, swimming, or biking will get your heart pumping and reduce inflammation by activating the body's sympathetic nervous system which, in turn, tempers the immune response over the short- and long-term.

By contrast, overtraining, either by exercising too long or too hard, can have the converse effect and trigger an increase in inflammation.

Pay Attention to the Fats You Eat

To reduce inflammation of the heart and circulatory system, eat healthy fats such as nut oils, flax oils, fish oils, olive oil, and canola oil. Limit your intake of red meat, which contains high amounts of saturated fat, to no more than one three-ounce serving once or twice a week. You should also cut out or reduce your consumption of full-fat dairy products such as butter, cream, ice cream, and cheese.

Additionally, clear the pantry of any processed foods made with trans fats or hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils. Excessive intake of the vegetable oils found in most junk foods can also turn up the inflammation even if the fats are not hydrogenated.

Watch Your Weight

Obesity is a condition inherently associated with inflammation. In recent years, scientists have identified an inflammatory protein, called PAR2, in the abdominal fat cells of overweight and obese people.

They believe that high fat/high sugar diets cause changes to the cells of the immune system which trigger the production of PAR2.

This unique inflammatory response not only complicates conditions like heart disease and diabetes, it may even contribute to weight gain by stimulating the production of certain fatty acids found in abdominal fat.

By losing weight, you can mitigate the effects of PAR2 and improve your overall heart health and glucose control.

Add Fiber to Your Diet

Who knew something as simple as dietary fiber could help alleviate inflammation in not only the gastrointestinal tract but the rest of the body, as well?

Eating a high-fiber diet can yield rewards by lowering the markers of inflammation associated with both arthritis and inflammatory bowel diseases.

Start by adding fiber to your diet first thing in the morning. Try oatmeal with fresh or frozen berries, nuts, and a sprinkling of flax seeds. Or, try a high-fiber breakfast cereal with at least six or more grams of fiber per serving.

In the afternoon, snack on fresh or dried fruit or nibble on veggies with hummus instead of chips or cookies. And, finally, end the day by adding an extra serving of vegetables to dinner and ensuring that your bread is 100 percent whole grain.

Sources:

Dimitrov, S.; Hulteng, E. and Hong, S. "Inflammation and exercise: Inhibition of monocytic intracellular TNF production by acute exercise via β2-adrenergic activation." Brain Beh Immun. 2017; 61:60-8. DOI: 10.1016/j.bbi.2016.12.017.

Lim, J.; Iyer, A.; Liu, L. et al. "Diet-induced obesity, adipose inflammation, and metabolic dysfunction correlating with PAR2 expression are attenuated by PAR2 antagonism." FASEB J. 2013; 27(12):4757-67. DOI:10.1096/fj.13-232702.

National Cancer Institute: National Institutes of Health. "Chronic Inflammation." Bethesda, Maryland; updated April 29, 2018.