Colorectal cancer is the third most common type of cancer in the United States. The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be over 104,000 cases of colon cancer and over 43,000 cases of rectal cancer in the United States in 2020.
What causes colorectal cancer?
Like most types of cancer, the exact cause of colorectal cancer is still unknown although experts have pointed out certain factors that can increase one’s risk.
These factors include a family history of the disease, inherited syndromes like familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP), a diet high in red and processed meat, being inactive, heavy alcohol consumption, and smoking.
How can you reduce your risk of colorectal cancer?
Nutrition plays a vital role in lowering the risk of colorectal cancer. For optimal colon health, the following practices are advised:
Eat a variety of vegetables and fruits
The most nutrient-dense produce is those that are vividly colored. Think of dark, leafy greens, red, orange, blue, or purple fruits. Having a wide variety of vegetables and fruits in your diet helps build a nutritional powerhouse for warding off diseases like cancer. Plus, fruits and veggies are good sources of fiber, which helps in keeping you regular.
Opt for whole grains
Aside from fruits and vegetables, whole grains are other good sources of fiber. Fiber isn’t just essential for having a regular bowel movement. It also plays a role in helping the healthy bacteria in your colon flourish.
Limit saturated fats and add healthier sources of fat in your diet
Not all fats are created the same. Saturated fat, which mostly comes from animal fat, should be eaten in moderation. Red meat, for instance, should be limited to one to two servings a week.
Healthier sources of fat that you should start adding in your diet include avocados, olive oil, and nuts.
Limit consumption of alcohol
Alcohol is known to be a gastrointestinal irritant. When it is metabolized by the body, it breaks down into a chemical called acetaldehyde.
Acetaldehyde is a known carcinogen. It can damage DNA and increases your risk of developing cancer.
If you can’t quit alcohol, at least moderate your consumption. It’s 1 drink per day for women and 2 drinks per day for men.
Limit added sugar
Studies show that certain types of cancer may be influenced by sugar. This includes colorectal, pancreatic, and prostate cancer. In another study, it shows that people who have a diet high in glycemic load (have a greater effect on blood sugar) has a higher risk of developing cancer than those with a diet low in glycemic load.
A diet high in refined sugar isn’t just a major risk factor for cancer; it’s also a big risk factor for other diseases like type 2 diabetes, chronic kidney disease, and heart failure.
Fruits are better options when your sweet cravings hit. Fresh fruits are high in fiber and phytonutrients which help stabilize your blood sugar level and boost your immune system function.
Nutrition is just a part of the equation when it comes to preventing colorectal cancer. Regular screening also helps especially if you belong to the high-risk group.
Talk to your doctor to see what’s the best screening test for you and how often you should do it.
Premier Surgical Associates of Knoxville has board-certified surgeons who have years of experience in diagnosing and treating colorectal cancer. If you’ve been diagnosed with colorectal cancer, talk to your physician about being referred to a Premier Surgical surgeon for treatment. For access to our main Premier Surgical line, you may call us at (865) 306-5775.