- Up to 50 percent of colorectal cancer cases are preventable through a healthy diet, being physically active and maintaining a healthy weight
- You can lower your risk of colon cancer by optimizing your vitamin D levels, eating more vegetables, garlic and fiber
- Avoiding processed meat is important for lowering colon cancer risk
Connie’s comments: Follow a low carb ketogenic diet. Exercise with sun exposure. Detox with cilantro and sulfur rich foods (garlic,apple cider vinegar). Remove toxic substances and endocrine disrupting substances from your house and environment if possible (plastics, food additives, aspartame, etc).
Top steps include the following.
1. Eat More Vegetables and Some Fruits
Vegetables contain an array of antioxidants and other disease-fighting compounds that are very difficult to get anywhere else – like magnesium.
Results from one meta-analysis indicated that for every 100-milligram increase in magnesium intake, the risk of colorectal tumor decreased by 13 percent, while the risk of colorectal cancer was lowered by 12 percent.4
The researchers noted magnesium’s anti-cancer effects may be related to its ability to reduce insulin resistance, which may positively affect the development of tumors.
Beyond magnesium, plant chemicals called phytochemicals can reduce inflammation and eliminate carcinogens, while others regulate the rate at which your cells reproduce, get rid of old cells and maintain DNA.
Vegetables are also one of the best forms of dietary fiber. Studies have repeatedly shown that people with higher vegetable intake have lower rates of cancer.5
Cruciferous vegetables may be particularly beneficial due to the sulforaphane they contain. Sulforaphene, a naturally occurring derivative of sulforaphne, has been found to suppress growth of colon cancer-derived tumors, for example.6
2. Eat More Fiber
Dietary fiber has been associated with a reduced risk of colorectal cancer, particularly incident colorectal adenoma and distal colon cancer.8 Further, for every 10 grams of fiber you add to your daily diet, your risk of colon cancer decreases by 10 percent.9
A 2005 study similarly revealed that dried plums “favorably altered … colon cancer risk factors” in rats, possibly due to their high content of dietary fiber and polyphenolics.10
Fortunately, if you follow the tip above and eat more vegetables, you’ll naturally be eating more fiber from the best possible source — vegetables. Psyllium seed husk, flax seeds, hemp seeds and chia seeds also provide valuable sources of soluble and insoluble fiber.
3. Optimize Your Vitamin D Levels
Vitamin D deficiency is a risk factor for colorectal cancer. In one study published in the journal Gut, people with higher blood levels of vitamin D were less likely to develop colorectal tumors.11
This may be because vitamin D is beneficial for your immune system, which in turn may help to limit the growth of cancerous tumors. According to the researchers:12
“Evidence suggests protective effects of vitamin D and antitumour immunity on colorectal cancer risk.
Immune cells in tumour 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 tumour–host interaction.”
Regular sun exposure, use of a high-quality tanning bed and/or supplementation with a vitamin D3 supplement can get your vitamin D levels into the optimal range of 50-70 ng/ml. You’ll need to monitor your levels to be sure you stay within this target range.
4. Avoid Processed Meats
Processed meats are those preserved by smoking, curing, salting, or the addition of chemical preservatives.
This includes bacon, ham, pastrami, salami, pepperoni, hot dogs, some sausages, and hamburgers (if they have been preserved with salt or chemical additives) and more. Particularly problematic are the nitrates that are added to these meats as a preservative, coloring and flavoring.
The nitrates found in processed meats are frequently converted into nitrosamines, which are clearly associated with an increased risk of certain cancers. AICR warns that “there is no safe threshold” for eating processed meats.13
5. Be Knowledgeable About Red Meat Consumption
Research suggests that people who eat the most red meat (in one study this was five ounces a day) have a 24 percent greater risk of colorectal cancer than those who eat the least.14
Red meat is likely not the problem in and of itself, however, but the way it’s cooked, and the source it comes from, likely play a role. Grass-fed beef, for instance, contains cancer-fighting compounds.
On the other hand, it’s known that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup herbicide, can have a detrimental impact on healthy gut bacteria and is carcinogenic. CAFO animals are typically fed grains contaminated with glyphosate.
Red meat cooked at high temperatures (such as barbecued or fried) may also contain carcinogenic cooking byproducts like heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).
When it comes to meats, I recommend eating organically raised grass-fed meats only and cooking them only lightly (rare, not well-done). For the record, I believe most people need some animal protein to be optimally healthy, but most eat far more protein than is necessary (or healthy).
There is convincing evidence that regular exercise can significantly reduce your risk of colon cancer.15 One study revealed that physically active men and women have about a 30 percent to 40 percent reduction in the risk of developing colon cancer compared with inactive persons, for instance.16
For starters, exercise drives your insulin levels down, and controlling insulin levels is one of the most powerful ways to reduce your cancer risk. It’s also been suggested that apoptosis (programmed cell death) is triggered by exercise, causing cancer cells to die.
Exercise also improves the circulation of immune cells in your blood. The job of these cells is to neutralize pathogens throughout your body, as well as destroy precancerous cells before they become cancerous. The better these cells circulate, the more efficient your immune system is at defending itself against infections and diseases like cancer.
7. Maintain a Healthy Weight and Control Belly Fat
A number of studies have linked obesity to an increased risk for about a dozen different cancers, including cancer of the colon. In a 2014 study that analyzed data from more than 5 million people over the age of 16, every 11-pound increase in body weight was associated with an increased risk for 10 types of cancer.17
If you’re overweight or obese, even small amounts of weight loss can lead to significant benefits for your health. In terms of cancer prevention, losing excess belly fat is particularly important, as belly fat is linked to an increased risk of colon cancer regardless of your body weight.
8. Limit Your Alcohol Intake and Quit Smoking
Both excessive alcohol intake and smoking are associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer. When it comes to alcohol, I generally define “moderate” alcohol intake (which is allowed in the beginner phase of my nutrition plan) as a 5-ounce glass of wine, a 12-ounce beer or 1 ounce of hard liquor, with a meal, per day.
As you progress further in the nutrition plan, I do recommend eliminating all forms of alcohol. If you’re a smoker, you can find tips for quitting here.
9. Eat Garlic
Garlic has been shown to kill cancer cells in laboratory studies, as well as shown promise when consumed via your diet. One study showed that women who regularly ate garlic (along with fruits and vegetables) had a 35 percent lower risk of colon cancer.18
Those who consume high amounts of raw garlic also appear to have a lower risk of stomach and colorectal cancers.19Furthermore, among people with inoperable forms of colorectal, liver, or pancreatic cancer, taking an extract of aged garlic for six months helped to improve immune function, which suggests it may be useful for helping your immune system during times of stress or illness.20
When you add raw garlic in your diet the fresh clove must be crushed or chopped in order to stimulate the release of an enzyme called alliinase, which in turn catalyzes the formation of allicin.
Allicin, in turn, rapidly breaks down to form a number of different organosulfur compounds. So to “activate” garlic’s medicinal properties, compress a fresh clove with a spoon prior to swallowing it, chop it finely to add to a salad, or put it through your juicer to add to your vegetable juice.