Last year, The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) announced that processed meat is now considered a Group 1 carcinogen due to the strong links with colorectal cancer in humans. Colorectal cancer affects both the rectum and colon and is the 3rd most diagnosed type of cancer in the USA.
The colon is responsible for forming, storing and eliminating waste material in the body, while also being responsible for maintaining a healthy balance of beneficial gut bacteria. Luckily, this type of cancer is preventable, with only 5-10% of the deaths caused by genetic defects. 35% of the cases are caused by an unhealthy diet, 30% are caused by smoking, 20% are caused by infections and the rest of cases are caused by stress and environmental pollution. However, there’s a 50% chance to prevent the disease. Here’s how:
Consume more fruit and vegetables
Fruit and vegetables contain antioxidants and other cancer-fighting compounds such as magnesium. Just a 100 mg. increase in magnesium can lower the risk of colorectal tumors by 13%, while reducing the risk of colorectal cancer by 12. The anti-cancer effects of the mineral are probably due to its ability to reduce insulin resistance. The phytochemicals in fruits and veggies can also fight carcinogens and regulate the rate at which your cells reproduce. Vegetables are rich in fiber as well, which has been confirmed to lower cancer rates. Cruciferous vegetables contain sulforaphene which can impair the growth of colon cancer-derived tumors.
Dry plums can reduce the risk of colorectal cancer as well by increasing the levels of the beneficial bacteria in your gut. However, increasing your fiber intake is the best way for prevention of cancer – according to a study, the risk decreases by 10% for every 10 gr. of fiber you consume. Dry plums contain a lot of fiber and polyphenols which are great against several types of cancer. Other great sources of fiber are chia seeds, flaxseeds and hemp seeds.
According to a study, people with lower levels of vitamin D are at an increased risk of colorectal tumors. Here’s what was written in the study: “Evidence suggests protective effects of vitamin D and antitumor immunity on colorectal cancer risk.
“Immune cells in tumor microenvironment can convert 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] [vitamin D] to bioactive 1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3, which influences neoplastic and immune cells”
… High plasma 25(OH)D level is associated with lower risk of colorectal cancer with intense immune reaction, supporting a role of vitamin D in cancer immunoprevention through tumor–host interaction.”
We mostly get our vitamin D from the sun, but consuming foods rich in it and taking a vitamin D3 supplement may also be a good idea.
Avoid processed meats
Smoked, cured and salted meats are dangerous for your health and considered highly carcinogenic. These meats contain chemicals, preservatives and nitrates which have been known to cause cancer. According to the AICR, “there’s no safe threshold” for eating processed meats.
Avoid red meat
Red meat can cause colorectal cancer as well. The meat itself isn’t a problem, but the way it has been grown is. Organic grass-fed meat is fine, but the meat we usually buy comes from CAFO animals fed with grains contaminated by glyphosate, a dangerous carcinogen. When cooked at high temperatures, red meat can release heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which can harm your health. If you must consume red meat, go for organic grass-fed meat.
Being physically active is vital for prevention of colorectal cancer. According to a study, people who exercise every day have a 30-40% lower chance of developing colorectal cancer. The exercise will induce apoptosis in cancer cells and will also lower your insulin levels which play a big part in reducing the risk of cancer.
Maintain your weight
Keeping your weight stable is crucial for prevention of cancer. According to several studies, overweight or obese individuals are at an increased risk of cancer. If you’re trying to lose weight, focus on excess belly fat as it has been associated with several types of cancer.
Smoking and alcohol abuse
Both smoking and excessive drinking can cause cancer, so make sure you avoid these unhealthy habits.
Many experts agree that garlic can cure cancer. Some studies have shown that women who eat garlic regularly have a 35% lower risk of colon cancer, while people suffering from pancreatic or liver cancer have benefited from aged garlic significantly. If you decide to add garlic in your diet, make sure to crush it first and leave it for 15 minutes so it can release allicin, a special compound that can fight cancer.
Men and women over 50 are advised to go for flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years and a colonoscopy every 10 years. Colonoscopy can detect colorectal cancer in its early stages and may also discover polyps which can be surgically removed at an early stage. However, colonoscopy can be harmful to your health.
Here are the best 15 ways to prevent colorectal cancer:
- Avoid drinking soda and drinks rich in sugar.
- Try walking 10 000 steps every day.
- Consume more green tea.
- Eat more steamed broccoli.
- Consume Brazil nuts as they are rich in selenium which can reduce the risk of several types of cancers including colorectal cancer.
- Eat artichokes as they contain silymarin which can lower the risk of cancer.
- Get regular sun exposure to increase your levels of vitamin D.
- Marinate your meat in beer, wine or spices that can lower the risk of cancer-causing substances at high temperatures.
- Eat resistant starches to reduce the risk of cancer and add fiber in your diet.
- Take a high-quality krill oil to increase the levels of omega-3 in your diet and reduce the use of processed vegetable oils in your food.
- Sleep in complete darkness as light sources can reduce the production of melatonin in your body.
- Eat onions due to their rich amount of quercetin, which can inhibit the cancer cells growth in your body.
- Avoid exposure to environmental toxins.
- Avoid fried food.
- Eat more fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut.