Eat Right to Help Prevent Colon Cancer
By Marijke Vroomen-Durning, RN | Medically reviewed by Pat F. Bass III, MD, MPH
Your health could very well depend on what you eat. Read the latest info on helping to prevent colon cancer with the right diet.
We’ve all heard that diet may play a role in lowering the risks of developing certain types of cancer, such as colon cancer. But, with all the news reports of what’s good and what’s bad, you’re probably wondering what the real story is.
Durado Brooks, MD, MPH, director, prostate and colorectal cancer at the American Cancer Society says, “What we know is that there are certain foods that increase the risk of colorectal cancer, and those foods are red meats and processed meats.” These include beef, pork, and lamb, as well as cold cuts and hot dogs.
Colon Cancer: Good Foods, Bad Foods
There are obvious high-fat foods that you should be doing without, but determining what's best for you is a balancing act. You should take everything you consume into consideration.
Cut back on red meat. When you hear the news about red meat, you may think you need to swear off it completely. Dr. Brooks explains, “We don’t suggest that people automatically eliminate meat from their diet, but we do suggest that they limit their meat consumption significantly.” To start, avoid fast food and processed meats, including ham, bacon, and sausage.
Choose foods that are good for you. Fruits and vegetables are always cited as a source of good nutrition. It’s no different when it comes to reducing your colon cancer risk. “A diet that is high in fruits and vegetables is recommended,” says Brooks. New research points to folate, one of the B vitamins, as having a role in colon cancer prevention; get it in green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, and fortified cereals. Fiber, on the other hand, remains a subject of debate. “There is still a whole lot of debate around the whole fiber question — whether diets high in fiber have a positive or even negative effect on colorectal cancer risk,” Brooks notes.
Put the brakes on alcohol and overeating. According to the American Cancer Society, along with the typical Western diet (high in fat, low in fruit and vegetables), alcohol and obesity both increase colon cancer risk.
Low-fat diets are especially important for people who have polyps and growths along the colon lining, which can then develop into cancer. Studies have shown that people with polyps who eat low-fat diets have fewer incidences of colon cancer.
Colon Cancer Prevention: Skip the Convenience Foods
We may think that the only way to eat and run is by picking processed, prepackaged, and fast foods. But that’s just not true. Eating a healthy diet doesn’t have to take any longer than a trip to your favorite drive-through. There are some simple ways to learn how to incorporate healthy eating into your everyday diet.
Make healthy food quick. Make a list and preplan your meals. With lists, you know what you need and you’ll be sure to have the right ingredients on hand. There are also grocery helpers, such as healthy versions of pasta sauces, frozen vegetables, and fresh prepared foods made on-site, that help speed up food preparation.
Make healthy food affordable. Buying fresh vegetables and fruit in season goes a long way toward helping keep your budget in check. If you have space, freeze some of the vegetables for later use. Instead of buying sugary cookies and treats, canned and frozen fruits, like berries, can be tasty. Meat can be pricey, but cooked dry beans and lentils can make a good meal at a much lower cost.
Even if there may not be a specific colon cancer diet, it can only help to eat a healthier diet and try to reduce any risks that you may have. Eating well also helps prevent obesity, known risk for colon cancer. Eating Well prevents