Colon cancer is the second highest cause of cancer death for men and the third highest for women. It is usually only a concern once you are over 50 years old. However, the past decade has seen a rise in the number of colon cancer diagnosis and deaths for people 35 to 50. This news and a 14% rise in colon cancer is not good news.
The past recommendations have been to begin colon screenings at age 50. However, based on the new evidence my opinion is that if you are eating the typical America diet rich in refined carbohydrates, fried foods, red meats, BBQ meat, processed meats, cheese, eggs and alcohol I would change my diet considerably. These foods are found to be colon cancer promoters in one way or the other. Meats when cooked in dry heat methods such as BBQ or smoking increase the cancer potential by producing carcinogenic compounds called Advanced Glycation End Products (AGE’s) and acrylamides. I would also consider having a colon screening done at an earlier age.
Reduce your risk of colon cancer!
If you think you may be having colon problems please see your doctor immediately. Colon cancer is often difficult to detect just by symptoms. It’s best to catch it early. If colon cancer runs in your family get screened more often. The simplest test is a Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT)/Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT). This test can be done once a year. You can also choose other more invasive methods.
Avoid Processed foods
According to several large-scale studies the regular consumption of refined carbohydrates such as chips, cookies, pastries, cereals, breads, sugary drinks, ice cream, processed foods, fried foods, (excessive) alcohol consumption, beef, lamb, pork, processed meats and cheeses increased the risk of colon cancer by more than 30%. This is the typical American diet.
There is no doubt that fiber plays an important role in a healthy digestive system and colon. Fiber makes stuff move and exit the body. The longer digested or undigested food particles sit in your colon the more damage is done to colon wall cells. Over a period of time the cells become damaged and replicated in a sick state. If they do this enough, it isn’t long before you have a precancerous cells ready to rapidly multiply into colon cancer.
A plant-based diet!
Certainly plants provide fiber but they also give a magnitude of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that prevent cell damage and can even reverse cell damage! Vegetables have the most powerful preventive effect. Leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, mustard greens, garlic, onions, asparagus, tomatoes are the most powerful at prevention. In fact, in one study, the regular consumption of tomatoes reduced the risk of colon cancer by up to 50%.
The best fruits are low sugar fruits such as blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, apples, peaches pears and plums. Even then I would consume only three servings per day.
Legumes (bean, peas and lentils) a real powerful anti-cancer agent!
Legumes are powerful plant foods that reduce the risk of many diseases including colon cancer. They are rich in vitamins, minerals and special antioxidants that fight cancers. Flavonoids from legume food not only inhibit the growth of tumor cells, but also induce cell differentiation (the immune system can differentiate cancer cells from normal cells).
“But it was the legumes that provided the biggest and most consistent reduction in colorectal cancer risk. Those who ate the most legumes (highest quarter) saw their incidence of colorectal cancer drop by over 50 percent – with women as high as 56 percent lower incidence. Furthermore, this reduced incidence also occurred with the other quartiles of legume consumption. As legume consumption increased, the incidence of colorectal cancer was reduced.” https://www.realnatural.org/legumes-colorectal-cancer/
Fermented foods and probiotics
Probiotics are very important at keeping our microbiome (gut bacteria) balanced and healthy. Health bacteria not only digest fiber but also make up a large part of our immune system. Our health starts in our gut and with a healthy microbiome. Fermented foods provide health bacteria our colon needs to be healthy. Probiotic supplements can also help re-establish a health microbiome. Talk with a qualified health professional for the right way to supplement probiotics.
Whole grains are rich in fiber and nutrients but need to be sprouted to reduce the inflammatory effects and increase the nutritional content. I don’t normally recommend grains for my clients. However, if you are a grain consumer please soak or sprout them before eating them.
Additionally, exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and quitting smoking also cut the risk of colon cancer. The nutrients Folate, calcium, magnesium and Vitamin D3 have shown to have a positive effect at colon cancer prevention. Folate, calcium and magnesium are very bioavailable in many vegetables, particularly leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables. Calcium and magnesium are also available in fruits, whole grains, nuts and seeds and legumes. If using a Vitamin D supplement make sure it is Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol).
If you want to avoid colon cancer increase your intake of greens, cruciferous vegetables, low sugar fruits, legumes and other plant foods. Start exercising and quite smoking!! Colon cancer is sneaky. It quietly grows unknown until it’s advanced. I highly suggest changing your diet and lifestyle to a healthy one rich in fiber, nutrition and exercise. Please get screened.
Before embarking on a plant-based diet, enlist the help of a qualified health coach to make sure you do it the healthy way. Switching to fast can cause digesting and detoxing issues.
Wally Bishop C.N.C., I.N.H.C.
Integrative Nutrition Health Coach
- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25739376 Beans reduce the risk of colon cancer
- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26616921 Beans reduce the risk of colon cancer
- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4350074/ Legume antioxidants stop cancer cell proliferation
- http://www.aicr.org/reduce-your-cancer-risk/diet/reduce_diet_nutrition_hotline_qa.html best foods to prevent colon cancer
- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2231486/ red meat and the production of AGE’s through the browning of meats increases cancer risk greatly
- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4698595/ Large scale studies implicate meats in colon cancer
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