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The São Paulo’s Albert Einstein Hospital announced that legendary Brazilian soccer player, Pele passed away on Thursday 29th December at 15:27 “due to multiple organ failures resulting from the progression of colon cancer…”, at the age of 82.

Pele – Forever a legend to millions around the world

Born Edson Arantes do Nascimentom, Pele is the only soccer player in history to win 3 World Cups, with his first win in 1958 at the age of 17.

His death was confirmed via a post on his Instagram page which read, “Inspiration and love marked the journey of King Pele, who peacefully passed away…”, adding that he had “enchanted the world with his genius in sport… and spread what he most believed to be the cure for all our problems: love.”

Pele was nicknamed “O Rei” (The King) during his illustrious career. He scored more than 1 000 goals before retiring in 1977.  He rose from hardship, to become one of the greatest athletes in history.

Pele’s death has sparked tributes from across the world and brought awareness to Colon Cancer.


This past week, Brazil forward Neymar told his social media followers that Pele was the only man to win three World Cups.

Before Pele, ’10’ was just a number,” Neymar wrote on Instagram.

But that beautiful sentence is incomplete. I would say that before Pele, football was just a sport.

He transformed football into an art, into entertainment… Football and Brazil gained status thanks to the King. He has gone, but his magic will remain. Pele is ETERNAL!

What is Colon Cancer?

Colon Cancer (also known as Colorectal Cancer) is a type of cancer that begins in the large intestine (the long tube that helps carry digested food to your rectum and out of your body). This organ makes up the final part of your digestive system. It typically begins as a small benign clump of cells called polyps, which form inside the colon and produce few, if any, symptoms.

Colon Cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in the United States. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), men are slightly more likely to develop colon cancer than women. It also affects more people who are Black than those of other ethnic groups or races. 

What Causes It?

Doctors still aren’t sure as to what causes most Colon Cancers. Simply speaking, Colon Cancer typically begins when healthy cells in the colon mutate in their DNA. Healthy cells grow and divide in an orderly manner to keep your body functioning normally.

However, when a cell’s DNA is damaged and becomes cancerous, it continues to divide – even when new cells aren’t needed, leading to a tumor forming. Over time, these cancer cells can multiply to invade and destroy normal tissue, and travel to other parts of the body to form deposits there.

Types of Colon Cancer

Surprisingly, there is more than one type of Colon Cancer, with the most common type starting from adenocarcinoma. To make up most Colon Cancer cases, adenocarcinoma forms within the cells that cause mucus in the colon or rectum. 

Less commonly, Colon Cancer is also caused by other tumors, such as:

  • Lymphomas: This forms in lymph nodes.
  • Carcinoids: These form in hormone-making cells inside your intestines.
  • Sarcoma: Forms in soft tissues such as muscles in the colon.
  • Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors: These form in the digestive tract, typically beginning as benign. 

Risk Factors 

  • Age: Some risk factors cannot be changed or controlled, such as age. Colon Cancer can be diagnosed at any age, but it mostly affects those who are over the age of 50.
  • Diet: Colon Cancer is typically associated with a typical Western diet, which is low in fiber and high in fat and calories. Increased risk is also seen in people who eat diets high in red, processed meat. 
  • Inflammatory Intestinal Conditions: Chronic inflammatory diseases of the colon, such as Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease, can increase your risk of colon cancer. 

Early Detection is important

Early detection gives you the best chance of beating this cancer, and since it often has no symptoms during its early stages, it is usually caught during routine screenings. The U.S. Preventive Service Task Force (USPSTF) and the ACS now recommend beginning Colon Cancer screening at 45, while the American College of Gastroenterology recommends screening at the age of 40. This is in light of younger people getting diagnosed with Colon Cancer more frequently.

Possible Treatments

Treating this cancer depends on a variety of factors, so your doctor will determine the best treatment plan for you based on your overall health and the stage of your colon cancer. These treatments include:

  • Surgery: If diagnosed in its early stages, it is possible for cancerous polyps to be removed through surgery. If cancer has spread to your bowel walls, a portion of your colon may have to be removed. 
  • Chemotherapy: Involving the use of drugs to kill lingering cancer cells and control the growth of tumors, it tends to take place after surgery.
  • Radiation: Commonly occurring alongside chemotherapy, radiation uses a powerful beam of energy to target and destroy cancerous cells before and after surgery.
  • Immunotherapy:  Immunotherapy is a type of cancer treatment. It uses substances made by the body or in a laboratory to boost the immune system and help the body find and destroy cancer cells. Immunotherapy can treat many different types of cancer. It can be used alone or in combination with chemotherapy and/or other cancer treatments.

Pele Broke Down Barriers

During a 2013 interview with Reuters, Pele stated that “God gave (him) this ability for one reason: To make people happy.” He spoke about how soccer allowed him to travel the world and bring cheer to cancer patients and survivors of wars and famine. 

His contribution to the game has earned him the title of King of football, with his impact transcending age, race, and class. 

The government of President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil has declared three days of mourning, calling Pele “a great citizen and patriot, raising the name of Brazil wherever he went.”

Let’s aim for a healthier 2023

Pele lived a long, fit life and died at the mature of 82 years. However, many men around the world are dying at a much younger age from cancer. As we enter the new year, let’s make taking care of our health a daily resolution and commitment. Small changes to our everyday lives will make a significant difference in our health outcomes.

These include:

  1. Quit smoking.
  2. Moderate your drinking of alcohol
  3. Remove ultra-processed foods from your diet and eat more fresh vegetables. Reduce sugar and complex carbohydrates in your diet.
  4. Prioritize exercise.
  5. Reduce stress. Work actively at reducing stress and have a purpose in life.
  6. Know your numbers. Get regular checkups, especially as you age. This will all reduce our risk of cancer, and many other conditions.

Make your health your priority in 2023, so you can enjoy longevity.

Rest in Peace O Rei. RIP PELE

Photo credits: Pele Instagram: @Pele

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Read more on how to ensure a healthy colon here:


Bongane Nxumalo

As a recent graduate of Rhodes University, Bongane is skilled in content production and editing for Print Media, Digital Media, and On-Air Content. With an interest in Current Affairs, Entertainment, and Politics, Bongane is able to provide a vast range of content that is relevant, informative, educational, and entertaining.

The content in this editorial is for general information only and is not intended to provide medical or other professional advice. For more information on your medical condition and treatment options, speak to your healthcare professional.

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