Nutrition Tips That May Decrease Your Risk of Colon Cancer

March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.  Colon cancer, also known as colorectal cancer, is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among American adults.  Early detection is key.  From the time the first abnormal cells start to grow into polyps, it usually takes about 10 to 15 years for them to develop into cancer. With regular screening, most polyps can be found and removed before they turn into cancer.  Screening should start around age 45, but if you have a strong family history of colorectal polyps or cancer, possibly earlier.   In addition to regular screening, the following tips may help to reduce your risk:

  • Avoid red meat:  Regular consumption of red meat may increase your risk of developing colon cancer compared to eating no red meat at all.
  • Vegetables: Vegetables, especially green leafy vegetables, have been linked to lower risk of colon cancer.
  • Fiber: Fiber, especially from whole grains, may lower colorectal cancer risk, however more research is needed.
  • Weight: Being overweight or obese may increase the risk of colorectal cancer in both men and women.
  • Physical activity: Increasing your level of activity may lower your risk of colorectal cancer and polyps.
  • Limit alcohol: Studies suggest that the more alcohol you drink, the higher your risk of colon cancer.
  • Green Tea: Green tea extract has been shown to reduce the recurrence of polyps, which can sometimes turn into colon cancer.
  • Aspirin:  Research suggests that taking a daily low-dose aspirin over a period of years can cut colon cancer risk by as much as half. Check with your healthcare practitioner to see if aspirin is right for you.
  • Folic Acid: There is good evidence that getting adequate folate from foods and supplements can reduce the risk of developing colorectal cancer.
  • Blood Sugar/Insulin:  Insulin resistance, especially when linked to excessive abdominal body fat, is associated with an increased risk of colon cancer.
  • Selenium: In people with low blood levels of selenium, selenium supplements have been found to reduce the risk of colon cancer
  • Curcumin: In people who smoke, taking curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric root, can reduce early changes in the colon that can lead to cancer.
  • Vitamin D:  Whether through exposure to sunlight or obtained from foods and supplements, vitamin D is associated with a reduced risk of developing colorectal cancer.


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