According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in the United States, and the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths. Though family history can increase one’s risk of colon cancer, the majority of people who are diagnosed have no family history of the disease. Here are steps you can take to reduce your risk of colon cancer:
- Reduce your intake of sugar, and, if you are diabetic, work to control your blood glucose levels. Eating large amounts of high glycemic-index or high glycemic load carbohydrates raises colon cancer risk, whereas increasing amounts of low-glycemic index carbohydrates decreases risk. Among people with type 2 diabetes, use of the diabetes drug Metformin was associated with a lower risk of colon cancer.
- Eat a diet rich in fiber, complex carbohydrates, fruits, vegetables and plant sources of protein. Be sure to include plenty of cruciferous vegetables, as they have been shown to block the growth of colon cancer tumors. Cruciferous vegetables include: arugula, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, kale, cauliflower, bok choy, turnip greens and mustard greens.
- Reduce, or better still, eliminate red meat from your diet. Information coming out of countries with the highest levels of beef consumption, such as New Zealand and Scotland, also have among the highest colon cancer rates in the world. The World Cancer Research Foundation analyzed 11 studies and found strong evidence that daily servings of red meat about the size of a deck of cards (3.5 oz) increased risk of colorectal cancer by 17%. 1.7 oz processed meat per day increased colorectal cancer risk by18% — that’s about 2-3 slices of bacon or two slices of bologna.
- Reduce saturated fat intake. Studies suggest that saturated fat, found in fatty meat and high fat dairy products, including ice cream, milk and cheese, may trigger increased production of insulin and growth factors that may promote colon tumor growth. In contrast, diets high in omega-3 fats found in cold water fish such as salmon, albacore tuna and rainbow trout can decrease inflammation, which can contribute to the onset of colon cancer.
- Maintain a healthy weight and body composition. Excess weight is strongly linked to colon cancer, especially for men, premenopausal women, and those with excess fat predominantly in the abdomen.
- Incorporate physical activity into your life. Regular moderate activity such as brisk walking for 30 to 60 minutes a day doesn’t just help with weight control, it can result in changes in various hormones and growth factors that help reduce the risk of colon cancer.
- Don’t smoke, or quit smoking, and drink alcohol only in moderation.
- Increase your antioxidants through a colorful selection of vegetables and fruits and reduce inflammation with cherries, fish and fish oil, and tumeric or its powerful anti-inflammatory component, curcumin.
- Research has consistently demonstrated that men and women with high blood levels of vitamin D, as well as those who consume more of the vitamin from dietary sources, have a significantly reduced risk of colorectal cancer. In addition, there is solid data suggesting that calcium supplementation can lower colon cancer risk.
- Getting the right flora from probiotics like acidophilus can not only reduce your risk of getting colon cancer, but the risk of recurrence as well.
Don’t forget screening! Receive regular colorectal cancer screenings beginning at age 50, assuming you have no known risk factors for the disease. If you are at higher risk – due to a family history of colon cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, or if you have a history of polyps in the colon – talk to your doctor about getting screened before the age of 50. Appropriate screening is extremely important, as the survival rate for people with colorectal cancers found early is more than 90 percent.
If you have been diagnosed with colorectal cancer call us at 1-877-41-BLOCK to speak with one of our patient advocates today to learn how integrative cancer treatment can help you!