In the fight against colon cancer, the best defense is regular screenings. But it’s not the only defense. Like many other conditions, nutrition and a healthy lifestyle can play an important role in preventing colon cancer.
“Diet and proper nutrition are important aspects of cancer prevention. Eating the right foods can reduce your risk for a number of different ailments, including colon cancer,” explains Carolyn Farhy, dietitian at the Cancer Center at Lankenau Medical Center.
But the benefits of a healthy diet don’t stop with prevention. For patients who have been diagnosed with colon cancer, proper nutrition can also help reduce the side effects and offset the emotional and physical rigors of treatment.
Farhy says the number one thing to do to decrease your risk for colon cancer is to refrain from tobacco use and limit alcohol intake. Patients with long-term tobacco and alcohol habits are more likely to be diagnosed with colon cancer, especially men. Stick to one drink per day for women, and two for men, or less than that to decrease your risk further. And for smokers and tobacco users? Call it quits if you haven’t already.
There’s no one food that will prevent colon cancer, but a balanced diet of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains has been linked with lower colorectal cancer risk. Try to avoid or at least limit your intake of red or processed meats and choose leaner meats or other proteins like fish and chicken.
Several studies have also found that a combination of calcium and Vitamin D may also help protect against colorectal cancer, so stock your kitchen with calcium-rich foods like milk, salmon, kale, and collard greens. Time spent outdoors is an excellent source of Vitamin D, but you can also find it in foods like salmon, sardines, and egg yolks.