Bowel Gas and Carcinogenesis

Have you ever wondered how much damage you would do to yourself having to regularly hold your gas in? Then for your benefit, we return again this week to Michael Weiner, a nutritionist and doctor of ethno-medicine, whose book “The Way of the Skeptical Nutritionist” discusses various diet and nutrition relationships to cancer.

If you happen to be in a profession that demands “air tight” standards on etiquette, it would behoove you to either take frequent breaks and/or adjust your diet to reduce the generation of gas. The quality of your drinking and cooking water (chlorine content) may also contribute to the creation of free radicals. Make sure you are taking the opportunities to not only pass gas but to perform your daily bowel movements.

Holding your gas may improve your love life but not your ability to reduce free radicals!

Holding your gas may improve your love life but not your ability to reduce free radicals!

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Cultural Factors Influence Amount of Bowel Gas Retained 

My hypothesis is that those of us who tend to suppress the impulse to “pass gas” run a greater risk of contracting cancer of the large bowel and rectum than those of us who release at will. This tends to be supported by statistics from various countries where cultural attitudes affect individual action or suppression in this matter. Japanese, for example, think nothing of passing gas at a good dinner, something a “proper” North American, Dane, or Britisher would never dare do. The incidence of large bowel and rectal cancer is greatest in the “uptight” countries and lowest in nations where there seems to be less of a “hang-up” about one’s own bodily functions (Africa, India, Singapore, Chile, and Japan; see table, “Regional Variations in Cancer Incidence”).

This variation in incidence of bowel cancer has been explained as having to do with the amount of meat people eat (the more meat the greater the risk of bowel cancer), and also related to the relative amount of fibrous foods eaten (the more fiber, the lower the incidence of bowel cancer). I suspect that carcinogenesis in the large bowel is also related to the amount of gas one holds in this organ. Methane, or “swamp gas,” is a major component of bowel gas. When it reacts with chlorine in the large bowel (a product of water treatment), hydrochloric acid and a free radical are formed, as shown in the following formula:

CH4           +Cl              —>HCl                     + free radical
(methane) (chlorine)   (hydrochloric acid)

This free radical then reacts with another molecule, producing another free radical. This self-propagating chain reaction continues until all materials are consumed or until two free radicals meet and join, producing, perhaps, carcinogenic substances that initiate the process of bowel cancer. Thus, in addition to implicating bowel gas in this process, I suspect that the chlorination of water also contributes to this disease process, as described above. Of course, potent carcinogens such as methyl chloride, chloroform, and carbon tetrachloride are also produced when methane is chlorinated, as any first-year chemistry student learns. To protect yourself from speeding this process, I can only suggest that you excuse yourself from the dinner table, leave the room, not hesitating for a minute out of polite considerations, a frequent enemy of the natural man within.

Table from "The Way of the Skeptical Nutritionist" (1981) Michael Weiner, PhD.

Table from “The Way of the Skeptical Nutritionist” (1981) Michael Weiner, PhD.

If you’ve received some relief from this article, please like, share, comment and relieve yourself.

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Hope you are having a joyous holiday season and are ready for a great 2014!

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One Response to Bowel Gas and Carcinogenesis

  1. This was very informative! I never knew that holding gas could be linked to certain illnesses. Great post!

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