The prevention of colon cancer begins with the big 3: Eat whole grains, exercise and avoid processed meats.

“Risk factors for colon cancer include: obesity, sedentary lifestyle, smoking, diets high in saturated fats, family history of colon cancer, family history of inflammatory bowel disease, and certain races such as african americans have higher risks of colon cancer,” says Alan Gingold, DO, a board certified gastroenterologist with the Digestive Healthcare Center of NJ.

“Diets that are high in fruits, vegetables and whole grains and low in saturated fats such as red meats and animal products seem to help prevent colon cancer,” continues Dr. Gingold.

“The reason for this, however, is not entirely clear. Is this due to specific protective properties of these beneficial foods such as antioxidants in fruits and vegetables and other beneficial properties of wholes grains?

“Is there some detrimental property in red meats and processed meats that increase the risk?

“Or is it that people who eat more fruits and vegetables and less red meats are more likely to be in good shape and less likely to be obese which is a risk factor for colon cancer as well?”

A report by the American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund came out in 2017 stating that whole grains, exercise and limitations on processed meat seem to have a protective effect against colon cancer.

The report notes the following:

  • 99 studies were analyzed.
  • Included was data on 29 million people.
  • Of that number, more than 250,000 had been diagnosed with colon cancer.

Variables Linked to Colon Cancer

• Eating more than 500 grams (cooked) of red meat a week, including pork.
• Obesity and overweight
• Two-plus drinks a day including beer

Lower Colon Cancer Risk: Cut Back on Meat, Add Whole Grains and Exercise

  • 90 grams (three servings) of whole grains a day; reduces colon cancer risk by 17 percent.
  • Start exercising if you don’t. Doing more housework doesn’t count. Set time slots aside most days of the week for at least 30 minutes of cardio and strength training.
  • Reduce red meat consumption, particularly processed meats.

Additional Ways to Lower Colon Cancer Risk

  • Give up alcohol, or at least, have no more than one drink a day.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Have three-plus servings a day of any combination of fruits (particularly those high in vitamin C) or fresh vegetables (especially spinach).

And remember to replace the refined or white grains that you normally eat with whole grains. E.g., white English muffins become whole grain; white rice becomes brown, wild or basmati; white bagels and pancakes become whole wheat or grain.

Dr. Gingold attributes his success to the extra time he spends with his patients. His areas of expertise include reflux disease, Barrett’s esophagus, capsule endoscopy, chronic liver disease and inflammatory bowel disease.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.  
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