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Follow a Healthy Diet to Minimize Colon Cancer Risk

Healthy Diet
Colon cancer is the second most common cause of cancer deaths. Fortunately, you can make certain lifestyle changes to greatly reduce your risk for this type of cancer. Among these changes are dietary changes, including eating less of some foods and more of others.
Eat Plenty of Fruits and Non-Starchy Vegetables
Experts recommend filling over half of your plate at each meal with fruits and non-starchy vegetables, and for good reason. These foods are filled with beneficial nutrients that could help limit your risk for many health conditions, including colon cancer. Fruits and vegetables are high in fiber, antioxidants, and other beneficial phytochemicals that help limit colon cancer risk.

Choose Whole Grains

When you eat grains, opt for whole grains, as these are high in fiber. Fiber helps keep your colon healthy. Refined grains don't provide the same benefit and may even increase the risk of colon cancer when part of a diet high in red meat and fatty foods. Many foods containing refined grains fall into the category of ultra-processed foods, which may increase overall cancer risk.

Eat Less Red Meat

Multiple studies show that the more red meat people eat, the higher their risk of colon cancer. This is especially true of processed meats containing sodium nitrite. Limit yourself to no more than three servings per week of red meat and avoid processed meats entirely. One study showed eating 5 ounces per day of red meat increased risk by 24 percent compared to eating 0.5 ounces per day.

Season Your Food With Garlic

Getting plenty of garlic in your diet may help limit colon cancer risk. You'll get the most benefits if you chop the garlic about 10 to 15 minutes before cooking it or eat it raw.

Limit Overall Fat Intake

The more fat you eat, the more bile acids get released to break down these fats in the digestive system. Sometimes these bile acids are converted to a form that could make tumor growth more likely in the cells lining your colon. Limiting fat intake may also make it easier to lose weight, which is another way to limit colon cancer risk.

Snack on Nuts

While nuts are relatively high in fat, they contain mostly the healthier monounsaturated fat and also provide beneficial fiber. Some studies also point to a potentially lower risk of colon cancer recurrence when people eat about 2 ounces of nuts per day. 

Limit Alcohol Intake

Some research points to potential increases in colon cancer risk with alcohol intake. If you do drink, stick to no more than one drink per day for women or two drinks per day for men. If you don't drink, don't start.

Get Plenty of Calcium, Vitamin D, and Folate

Calcium, vitamin D, and folate may help lower colon cancer risk. Milk is better than cheese for calcium due to its lower fat content. Milk is also often fortified with vitamin D. Green leafy vegetables, sardines, and salmon all provide calcium as well. For folate, avoid supplements and eat more green leafy vegetables and citrus fruits.

Healthiest Diets to Follow

A Mediterranean diet or a vegetarian diet limits the risk of colon cancer more than following a typical American diet loaded with meat. Even eating a mostly vegetarian diet with small amounts of meat or fish occasionally may be beneficial for limiting colon cancer risk.
No matter what lifestyle changes you make, you still need to get regular screenings for colon cancer every five to ten years once you reach 45 to 50 years in age. Digestive Disease Consultants can answer any questions you might have about colon cancer prevention and screening.