Exercise – The Best Protection
When it comes to preventing colon cancer, exercise may be even more important than eating your vegetables.
According to the American Cancer Society, regular exercise can reduce the risk of colon cancer by 50%. Exercise:
- Speeds the movement of food through the intestine.
- Decreases bile acid secretion.
- Boosts the immune system. Decreases the circulating insulin levels that are thought to stimulate tumor growth.
- Helps weight management.
The American Institute for Cancer Research recommends:
- One hour a day of moderate activity, like walking briskly.
- “Minutes a day can add years to your life.”
Fiber may offer protection against colon cancer.
- Although two well-publicized studies in 2000 concluded that dietary fiber did not prevent colon cancer, those studies did not examine colon cancer itself.
- Rates of colon cancer are low in countries with low-fat, high-fiber diets.
- Increases stool bulk.
- Speeds the transit time of stool through the colon, reducing the time that carcinogens stay in your system.
- Absorbs bile acids.
- Fermentation of fiber in the colon creates butyrate, which has anti-carcinogenic effects.
- Aim for 25-35 grams of fiber per day.
Eating more whole grains lowers your overall refined carbohydrate intake and adds fiber.
- Follow MyPlate’s advice and make at least half the grains you eat every day whole grains.
- Whole grains are high in fiber.
- Vitamin D promotes calcium absorption.
- It is also linked to lower colon cancer incidence.
- Aim for at least 400 IU of vitamin D daily. If you are older than 70, try to get 600 IU.
- Drink vitamin D-fortified skim or soy milk.
- 20 minutes of daily sun exposure provides the recommended amount of vitamin D without increasing your skin cancer risk.
- Researchers found that just 700 mg of calcium a day -- from food or supplements -- reduced a person’s risk of colon cancer by 50%.(Source: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, March 2002)
- Calcium binds bile and fatty acids inside the colon, preventing them from causing damage.
- Heed MyPlate’s guide and get 3 cup servings of calcium-rich foods daily.
Folate (Folic Acid)
- This B vitamin guards against the DNA damage that causes cancer. Diets with a folate deficiency are associated with colon cancer risk.
- Take a multivitamin in order to get 100% of the daily value of folic acid (400 mcg).
- Omega-3 fatty acids in salmon, flaxseeds, and walnuts may slow or prevent tumor growth.
- Use a little bit of olive oil instead of butter.
- Olive oil lowers deoxycholic acid, which is a bile salt that can trigger tumor formation.
- Green tea may offer protection against colon cancer. Make it part of a plant-based diet rich in healthful foods.
Stephanie Ronco has been editing for Food and Health Communications since 2011. She graduated from Colorado College magna cum laude with distinction in Comparative Literature. She was elected a member of Phi Beta Kappa in 2008.