The Establishment Failed Pelé And Kristie

I was saddened to hear that soccer legend Pelé and “Cheers” star Kirstie Alley both died of colon cancer late last year.

But the wider part of this tragedy is that this kind of cancer is highly preventable and still poorly understood by most doctors.

Mainstream physicians – as well as the media – will tell you your age causes colon cancer, the genes you inherited from your family, and a high-fat diet.

They couldn’t be more wrong.

Colorectal cancer has nothing to do with age and very little to do with your genes…

Instead, it has everything to do with epigenetics.

This is the important relationship between our world and your epigenome, which sits on top of your DNA and directs which genes get turned on and off.

Studies now reveal that the biggest contributing factors to colon cancer are not in the genes you inherited from your parents.

What really matters is the way your epigenome is affected by your diet, your lifestyle, and the medications you take.

Let me explain…

Your colon is the longest part of your large intestine. Among many other biological functions, it is home to millions of bacteria known as your gut microbiota.

It’s here in your colon that beneficial bacteria, called probiotics, cause the dietary fiber to ferment. This helps generate compounds called butyrate to nourish cells in your colon and protect it against cancer.

Colon cancer most often strikes when the bacteria balance in your gut microbiota gets destabilized, and your colon stops functioning as intended.

The latest research shows that the three biggest – and probably the most ignored – contributing risk factors that eventually lead to colon cancer are:

  1. Gut inflammation. This often begins as an imbalance in the gut microbiota caused by a carb-heavy diet and overuse of antibiotics. Eventually, you end up with a loss of protective bacteria and an excess of cancer-promoting bacteria. Not treated can lead to intestinal inflammatory conditions like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Unless you do something about it, gut inflammation can lead to colorectal cancer.1
  2. Clostridioides difficile (C. diff). This bacterium causes serious diarrheal infections and has been shown to likely contribute to colorectal cancer. While C. diff is often a normal part of a healthy gut, studies reveal that out-of-balance gut microbiota can cause a rise in C. diff infections and cause colorectal tumors.2,3
  3. Vitamin D deficiency. Studies show that vitamin D interacts with your epigenome on multiple levels. The conclusions of a large, case-controlled study across 10 European countries found that as vitamin D blood levels increased, the risk of colorectal cancer declined dramatically.4

Slash Your Risk of Colon Cancer

The good news is that all of these major risk factors for colon cancer can be dramatically reduced. Here’s what I recommend to my patients…

  • Rebalance your gut microbiota: The first step toward a healthy gut is to cut carb-heavy grains and processed foods from your diet as much as possible. Grains contain nutrient blockers called lectins, which interfere with digestion and upset the delicate balance of bacteria in your colon.Instead, plan all your meals around high-quality protein. Fruits and vegetables, not grains and other processed junk should round out the rest of your meal. Grass-fed red meat with organic fruits and vegetables is one of the most balanced meals you can eat.
  • Beware of antibiotics: Multiple studies reveal that antibiotics upset the normal balance of intestinal flora. If taken long-term or too frequently, they are also a major risk factor for C. diff. The greatest risk comes from using high-strength antibiotics like cephalosporins, clindamycin, fluoroquinolone, and carbapenem.The good news is that nature has provided hundreds, if not thousands, of herbal antibiotic alternatives that are safe and can be just as effective. I recommend using antibiotic alternatives garlic, raw honey, echinacea, and curcumin instead. Of course, there are instances when only a prescription will do.
  • Boost vitamin D levels: Sunshine is the best source of vitamin D. You don’t need more than 20-30 minutes in the sun to get all your vitamin D for the day. But because we spend most of our time inside, you might have to get your vitamin D from other sources.I also recommend supplementing with a form of vitamin D3 called cholecalciferol. It’s the same vitamin D that your body produces. Just be sure to avoid the synthetic form, vitamin D2, or ergocalciferol, in most multivitamins. I recommend 5,000 IUs of cholecalciferol daily.

To Your Good Health,

Al Sears, MD, CNS


1. Artemev A, et al. “The association of microbiome dysbiosis with colorectal cancer.” Cureus. Feb 2022;14(2):e22156. 2022
2. Drewes JL, et al. “Human colon cancer-derived Clostridioides difficile strains drive colonic tumorigenesis in mice.” Cancer Discov. Aug 5 2022;12(8):1873-1885. 2022
3. Jahani-Sherafat S, et al. “The rate and importance of Clostridium difficile in colorectal cancer patients.” Gastroenterol Hepatol Bed Bench. Fall 2019;12(4):358-363.
4. Jenab M, et al. “Association between pre-diagnostic circulating vitamin D concentration and risk of colorectal cancer in European populations: a nested case-control study.” BMJ. 2010;340:b5500. 2010.