Nutrients, Foods, and Colorectal Cancer Prevention

— Written By and last updated by Nancie Mandeville
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March is Colorectal Cancer Prevention Month! According to a 2017 report from the North Carolina State Center for Health Statistics and the NC Department of Health and Human Services(NCDHHS), 390 people were diagnosed with colon cancer in Union County.

As we recognize Colon Cancer Prevention month, let’s look at some of the measures that we can take to assist our bodies in the prevention of colorectal cancer. The first step is becoming aware that the foods we eat each day can play a huge part in the prevention of colorectal cancer and other chronic diseases.

Thanks to years of research, we now know that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can decrease our risk of colorectal cancer. These foods are high in fiber and contain phytochemicals that may block the growth of cancer cells or fight inflammation that can cause cancer to spread. Broccoli, cabbage, and fruits containing vitamin C are good choices.

Grilled Salmon

Decreasing the weekly intake of red meats and processed meats is another positive choice for a healthier lifestyle. Fish that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, are great for the heart. Some research has shown that this diet has also reduced the risk of colorectal cancer.

Most research shows that calcium-rich dairy products can make you less likely to have colon growths. Today, there are many great ways to incorporate dairy into your diet, such as yogurt and delicious milk-based smoothies. Calcium is also found in non-dairy products that have been enriched with calcium such as some orange juices. Collard greens, spinach, kale, okra, and other vegetables are also good sources of calcium, for those that are lactose intolerant.

Whole grains are packed with nutrients, magnesium, and fiber. In the process of keeping your colon clean, they may grab onto cancer-causing compounds in your colon.

Research shows that limiting alcohol consumption is a positive step toward decreasing the odds of being impacted by colorectal cancer. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information(NCBI), moderate to heavy drinking (2-3 glasses a day) can make you 20% more likely to get colorectal cancer, while heavy drinking can increase your chances by 40%.

While research is still being conducted on the link between nutrition and cancer, early detection remains one of the best ways to save lives. The American Cancer Society, (ACS), recommends that regular screenings begin at age 45 and continue through age 75 if you are in good health. For people ages 76-85, the ACS states that the decision to be screened should be based on a person’s preferences, life expectancy, overall health, and prior screening history. The screenings can be done with a sensitive test that looks for signs of cancer in a person’s stools (a stool-based test) or an exam that looks at the colon and rectum( a visual exam). Talk to your doctor today about scheduling your colorectal screening.