Colon cancer has been in the news as of late after the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which is part of the World Health Organization (WHO), concluded in late 2015 that processed meat can cause colorectal cancer in humans, classifying it as a Group 1 carcinogen.
Colorectal cancer, which includes both cancers of the colon and rectum, is the third most common cancer diagnosed in the U.S. (not including skin cancers). In 2016, it’s estimated there will be more than 95,000 new cases of colon cancer (and more than 39,000 cases of rectal cancer) diagnosed.
Your colon, also known as your large intestine, plays an incredibly important role in your health. As food passes through your colon, liquid and salt are removed to prepare it for elimination.
Aside from helping to form, store and eliminate waste, your colon contains billions of bacteria, a healthy balance of which is essential for optimal health.
Many Cases of Colon Cancer Are Preventable
Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S., but, like many types of cancer, it is often preventable.
Research published in Pharmaceutical Research suggested that only 5 percent to 10 percent of cancer cases are due to genetic defects, while the rest are linked to environment and lifestyle factors.
The researchers estimated that up to 35 percent of cancer-related deaths may be due to diet, another 30 percent due to tobacco, 20 percent due to infections and the rest due to other environmental factors including exposure to radiation, stress, physical activity levels and environmental pollution.
The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) also stated that about one-third of the most common U.S. cancer cases are preventable through a healthy diet, being physically active and maintaining a healthy weight.
In the case of colorectal cancer, the percentage that could be prevented via these lifestyle factors rises to 50 percent.
Top Tips to Prevent Colon Cancer
Today can be the day you start making healthy changes to lower your risk of this potentially deadly disease. Top steps include the following.
Here are 15 more ways to lower your risk of colorectal cancer:
- Eliminate sugary drinks like soda and cut sugar from your diet
- Do more walking, try to take 10.000 steps a day.
- Consume green tea. It is rich in epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), a cancer-fighting catechin polyphenol.
- Eat steamed broccoli
- Consume Brazil nuts. They are an excellent source of selenium, a mineral that’s especially beneficial for reducing the risk of prostate, colorectal and lung cancers.
- Eat artichokes; they’re rich in silymarin, which is an antioxidant that may lower your risk of skin cancer.
- Get regular sun exposure. It will increase your vitamin D levels.
- Marinate your meat with spices, beer or wine, which can lower the formation of cancer-causing substances when you cook it.
- Eat some “resistant starches” (such as green bananas), which act like fiber in your body. They may help reduce the risk of colon cancer from a diet high in red meat.
- Normalize your ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fats by taking a high-quality krill oil and reducing your intake of processed vegetable oils, like corn, soy, and canola.
- Sleep in complete darkness; light at night suppresses your body’s production of melatonin, which has anti-cancer effects
- Eat onions. They contain cancer-fighting quercetin; quercetin inhibits the growth of cancer cells from breast, colon, prostate, ovarian, endometrial and lung tumors.
- Avoid environmental toxins, including the cancer-causing dry cleaning chemical perc (perchloroethylene).
- Avoid French fries and potato chips, which may contain high levels of cancer-causing acrylamide (a compound formed when foods are cooked at high temperatures).
- Eat fermented vegetables; they’re excellent for your gut health and the fermentation process involved in creating sauerkraut produces cancer-fighting compounds such as isothiocyanates, indoles and sulforaphane.