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Colon Cancer: How To Reduce Your Risk?!
Colon and rectal cancers are some of the most common forms of cancer worldwide. In the United States, colorectal cancer (which affects both areas) is the third most diagnosed form of cancer, and the second highest cause of cancer-related death.
The good news is that cancer of the colon and rectum is one of the more preventable forms of cancer, and it is easy to make changes to your diet and lifestyle that significantly reduce the chances of it ever happening to you. Only about 5-10 percent of cancer cases are due to genetics. The majority of cases are linked to diet and environmental factors. The American Institute for Cancer Research has claimed that one third of cancer cases are preventable simply by making lifestyle changes. With regard to colon cancer, changes to diet and physical activity can reduce your chances of developing it by up to 50 percent!
1. Eat more fruits and vegetables
Everyone knows fruits and veggies are good for them, but did you know that these foods, particularly leafy green vegetables, have powerful nutrients that can significantly reduce your risk of developing cancer?
Vegetables contain many different vitamins and antioxidants, as well as minerals with cancer-fighting properties, like magnesium. Researchers found that the risk of colorectal cancer went down by 12 percent for every 100mg increase in magnesium consumption.
Cruciferous vegetables contain a sulfur-derived compound called sulforaphene, which has been shown to be especially beneficial for reducing the risk of cancer. Cruciferous vegetables include cabbage, broccoli, bok choy, cauliflower, kale, collard greens and more. Sulforaphene has been shown to suppress the growth of cancerous tumors.
Eating garlic is also been shown to reduce one’s risk of cancer, and strengthen the immune systems of those already diagnosed. A study on women who regularly ate garlic found that their risk of developing colon cancer was reduced by 35 percent.
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2. Get plenty of Vitamin D
Your body’s level of vitamin D plays a big role in strengthening your immune system. “Evidence suggests protective effects of vitamin D and antitumor immunity on colorectal cancer risk,”according to a 2015 article published in the online medical journal Gut.
The best way of getting vitamin D is through exposure to sunlight. Everyone’s skin sensitivity is different, but a good rule of thumb is to get 30 minutes of sunlight each day. Be sure not to put on sunscreen during this time, because that will negate the benefits of the sunlight. If for some reason this is not an option, tanning beds or vitamin D supplementation is also effective (this may be necessary during the dimmer months of winter). Having blood levels of vitamin D in the range of 50-70 ng/ml is considered ideal.
3. Get more fiber
Fiber is one of the most important nutrients that can reduce your risk of colon cancer. Your risk of this form of cancer decreases by 10 percent for every 10 grams of fiber consumed each day. Fruits and vegetables are especially beneficial for reducing your risk of cancer for all the reasons listed above, but it is also due to the high levels of fiber these foods contain. If you consume plenty of these foods, you’ll probably be getting the fiber you need.
Other great sources of fiber include flax and chia seeds.
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4. Be careful with meat
Many people grill their meat extra hot or order their steak well done because they are concerned about germs, or simply prefer the taste. But did you know that this can increase your risk of colon cancer?
Cooking meat (especially red meat) at very high temperatures can produce carcinogenic compounds called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and heterocyclic amines (HCAs). Both of these compounds can, over time, can significantly increase your risk of colorectal cancers. You can reduce the risk by avoiding meat-cooking methods that involve direct contact with the heated surface, pre-heating meat in the microwave prior to reduce the required cooking time, and removing charred pieces of meat prior to eating.
You should also be mindful of how much red meat you are eating in general. Research has found that simply eating more than 5 ounces of red per day can increase colon cancer risk by 24 percent.
There is also the issue of what the animal you’re eating was fed during its lifetime. Chose locally-produced grass-fed beef over factory-farmed grain-fed beef whenever possible. Grass-fed beef is leaner and has more omega-3 fatty acids, and there is also the issue that a lot of grain feed for mass produced beef is contaminated with herbicides like glyphosate, which numerous studies have shown to be carcinogenic.
5. Get plenty of exercise
It’s a simple fact that in general, physically active people are healthier and stronger by all metrics. This is especially true with regards to cancer. A study published in the medical journal Medicine & Sports in Sports & Exercise found that adults who got 30-60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise per day had a 30-40 percent lower risk of developing colon cancer. If you have excess belly fat you should work on eliminating it, as high levels of midsection fat are linked to higher risks of developing cancer.
Heavy drinking has also been linked to higher risks of cancer. Behaviors that clearly expose one to carcinogens, like smoking, should obviously be eliminated.
All these diet and lifestyle suggestions are changes you should be making anyway. Making wise decisions with regard to diet and exercise and a reduced risk of all forms of cancer go hand in hand.