Colon cancer occurs when cell growth in the large intestine occurs at an uncontrolled rate. It is usually discussed in terms of colorectal cancer. According to some estimates, colorectal cancer is the 2nd leading cause of death among both men and women. In 2017, about 135,430 new cases and 50,260 deaths will occur due to colon and rectal cancers. Despite the wide prevalence of this cancer, it is largely preventable, and you can cut down your risk significantly with these nine things.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables
What kind of foods do you usually consume? One reason behind the ever-increasing prevalence of colon cancer is an unhealthy diet. Instead of junk food, you should focus on increasing the intake of fruits and vegetables. They contain powerful antioxidants that neutralize free radicals and prevent oxidative damage. Free radicals increase your risk of various diseases, including cancer. At the same time, they provide an abundance of vitamins, minerals, and fiber, which improve digestive health. A study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition discovered that high consumption of fruits and vegetables is linked to a reduced risk of colorectal cancer, primarily of colon cancer.
- Maintain a healthy weight
Studies show that men of all ages and premenopausal women (more than postmenopausal ladies) are at increased risk of developing colon cancer if they are obese. One research found that the relationship between the two is stronger in men. This isn’t such a surprise because being overweight and obesity make a person more prone to various health conditions. Cancer Prevention Research published the results of the study, which found that abdominal fat is directly linked to colon cancer. In order to cut down the risk of colon cancer (and other diseases), strive to maintain your weight in a healthy range. If you’re overweight or obese, it is never too late to start working your way to better health.
- Increase intake of fiber
Dietary fiber improves your digestion, thus helping your body eliminate toxins and wastes that could lead to negative health outcomes. An unhealthy diet messes up our digestion and contributes to weight gain. Increasing the consumption of high-fiber foods can help you maintain weight in a healthy range or aid weight loss. Also, fiber intake (particularly from whole grains) decreases the risk of getting colorectal cancer, according to a study from the BMJ.
- Get more vitamin D
Vitamin D or sunshine vitamin is usually associated with bones and joints, but it is necessary for your overall health too. Since it is vital for the immune system (which resides in your gut), it comes as no wonder why this vitamin can help you prevent colon cancer as well. Research published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology found that vitamin D intake is inversely associated with the risk of colorectal cancer. For example, participants with the lowest levels of the sunshine vitamin were more susceptible to develop this severe disease than their counterparts.
- Don’t eat processed meat
Processed meats are associated with an unhealthy diet. The term refers to those meat products that went through different processes, including smoking, curing, and salting. They also contain preservatives that prolong their shelf life. Processed foods have little to no nutritional value, and they jeopardize your health significantly. Shockingly, eating 50 grams every day (1 hot dog or four strips of bacon) of meat that is processed leads to increasing the risk of colorectal cancer by around 20%. The problem with processed meat is that it contains chemicals that generate N-nitroso compounds that damage cells that line the bowel. Also, cooking methods such as frying, grilling, and barbecuing induce the appearance of cancerous chemicals.
- Learn more about red meat
Red meat is usually referred to as a major risk factor for colon cancer. However, scientists still can’t agree on this subject because studies give mixed results. In one study, the consumption of red meat increased colon cancer risk by 28%. If you’re an omnivore, the last thing you want to see is that red meat is dangerous for your health. The problem is more complex than previously thought. It is extremely important to get educated about colon cancer and red meat. Scientists speculate that cooking methods play a major role here, which is why you should strive to prepare red meat in a healthy manner. Also, instead of eating this meat every day, you can do it two times a week and make it a side dish rather than the main meal.
- Physical activity
Regular physical activity is a crucial component of a healthy lifestyle. Exercise helps you lose weight (or prevent weight gain), reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases, strengthens your immunity, and it can also protect you from colon cancer. In fact, a study that appeared in Sports Medicine discovered that about 12-14% of all cases of this cancer could be attributed to lack of physical activity i.e., a sedentary lifestyle. Exercise regulates insulin levels, which is the best way to reduce the odds of developing colon cancer, and it also has a beneficial impact on your digestion.
- Eat garlic
Garlic is incredibly healthy; it has the tremendous potential to inhibit cancer cells and reduce the risk of colon cancer. The Journal of Nutrition featured a review of studies that showed that there is a substantial amount of evidence confirming the powerful effect of garlic on colon cancer risk. Naturally, to experience these benefits, it is important to ensure garlic is a part of a well-balanced, healthy diet. Adding it to unhealthy meals doesn’t yield these important effects.
- Quit smoking
Smoking is bad for your skin, lungs, brain, heart, colon health, and so much more. One study found that ever-smokers were at a moderately higher risk of colorectal cancer than never-smokers. Also, evidence shows that women who smoke cigarettes are more prone to colon cancer than men. Consider quitting smoking to protect yourself and the health of people around you.
Colon cancer is widely prevalent, and it is a major cause for concern. An unhealthy lifestyle greatly affects one’s odds of developing this cancer. Thankfully, making certain lifestyle modifications can help you prevent colon cancer and improve overall health and wellbeing.