Diet for Colon Cancer Prevention
Certain dietary habits may increase your risk of developing colon cancer and rectal cancer. On the other hand, some dietary factors have been shown to play a key role in the prevention of colon cancer. Overall, about half of all colorectal cancers have are estimated to be linked to dietary factors. The purpose of this article is to provide detailed information about dietary factors that can help prevent colorectal cancer.
Note: Colorectal cancer is a serious disease and requires immediate medical attention. The information below and elsewhere on this website is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or a qualified health care professional for any questions you may have regarding any medical condition or disease, including colon cancer.
#1: Choose Low-GI Foods
Glycemic Index (GI) is a ranking of carbohydrate-rich foods according to their impact on blood sugar levels. Foods that are slowly digested encourage stable blood glucose levels and rate low on the glycemic index. Most non-starchy vegetables, legumes and fruit have a low GI rating. Foods that break down quickly, including most refined carbohydrate-rich foods and potatoes, cause rapid fluctuations in blood glucose levels and are rated high on the Glycemic Index. Carbohydrates that have a high GI rating have been linked to the development of colorectal cancer. This link is believed to be a related to the ability of high GI foods to stimulate the production of the hormones insulin and insulin-like growth factor (IGF), which can stimulate tumor proliferation and progression and to promote the spreading of colon cancer cells in the body.
#2: Cut Down on Alcohol
A frequent intake of alcohol has consistently been associated with an increased risk of many types of cancer, including colorectal cancer, but the exact mechanisms by which alcohol causes cancer are not known. However, there are several theories. According to one of the most commonly accepted theories, alcohol is converted into acetaldehyde in the body — a chemical that also causes hangovers — and this chemical induces DNA damage which can cause to cancer. In terms of the quantity of alcohol consumed, the higher and the more frequent the alcohol intake, the higher the risk of colon cancer. However, even small amounts of alcohol can increase the risk of cancer (but possibly reduce the risk of heart disease, particularly in older men and women).
#3: Step Up Your Curcumin Intake
Curcumin, a natural pigment responsible for turmeric's intense yellow color, has been praised in Asia for years for its healing properties. In recent years, also western scientists have started to pay greater attention to this interesting phytochemical which, according to new scientific studies, has strong anti-tumor and anti-cancer powers which can make it effective against many types of cancer, including colon cancer. A study conducted by University of Chicago researchers showed that curcumin can inhibit H. pylori, a cancer-provoking bacteria associated with colon cancer. Curcumin has also been shown to trigger self-destruction of cancer cells and to destroy free radicals.
#4: Step Up Your Fiber Intake
Some research suggests that eating a variety of foods high in dietary fiber has a protective effect against colon cancer. Fiber reduces the time the stool spends in the intestines, thereby limiting the colon's exposure to potential carcinogens. It also binds existing carninogens in the intestines and absorbs bile acids which could trigger certain bacteria to produce cancer causing subtances. Fiber also promotes the proliferation of healthy bacteria in the intestines, leaving less room for harmful bacteria that could create cancerous substances. However, not all studies have shown a relationship between fiber intake and cancer. Nevertheless, a diet rich in fiber provides plenty of other benefits: soluble fiber can reduce elevated cholesterol levels, regulate blood sugar levels, and prevent constipation. Fiber rich foods including vegetables, legumes, and whole grains, also provide an excellent source of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals.
#5: Consume Foods That Deliver Ellagic Acid
Ellagic acid might well be your best weapon in the battle against colorectal cancers, including colon cancer. Scientific evidence indicates that ellagic acid can activate detoxifying enzymes in the liver, resulting in the clearing of cancer-causing substances in the serum. Ellagic acid also appears to be capable of preventing carcinogenic substances from attaching to cellular DNA. Furthermore, ellagic acid has been shown to stimulate the immune system, to trigger apoptosis (i.e. self-destruction of cancerous cells), and to attack potentially colon cancer causing free radicals. Ellagitannin, which the body converts into ellagic acid, is abundant in many red fruits and berries, raspberries being a particularly good dietary source of this extraordinary colon cancer fighting compound.
#6: Avoid Animal-Based Foods That Are Rich in Nitrates
Nitrates are naturally occurring substances that are present in the soil, air surface water, ground water and plant, including vegetables that we eat. Food manufacturers also use nitrates to give certain meat products — such as jerkies, bacon, sausages, and lunch meat — an intense red color. When you eat foods that contain nitrates, you body may convert the nitrates into nitrites, which in turn can form nitrosamines. Studies have shown nitrosamines to be highly carcinogenic. Luckily, antioxidant compounds — such as vitamin C and vitamin E — are capable of preventing nitrosamine formation. As vegetables are typically rich vitamins and other antioxidant substances, nitrosamine formation should not be a concern when you eat nitrate-containing vegetables such as carrots or spinach. This is supported by large-scale population studies which show no link between a high consumption of nitrate-containing vegetables and cancer, but which show that people who frequently eat nitrate-containing meat products have a higher risk of cancer.
#7: Eat Plenty of Foods That Provide Indoles
Crucifrous vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale and Brussels sprouts have long been touted for their ability to combat cancer, including colon cancer. These cancer-fighting properties have been linked to indoles, natural compounds that occur in cruciferous vegetables when these plants are chopped, crushed, or chewed. Indoles have been shown to boost the detoxification of carcinogens and to provide antioxidant protection. Moreover, research suggests that indoles can inhibit the proliferation of colon cancer cells.
#8: Avoid Excessive Amounts of Protein
More than hundred years ago a Scottish doctor called John Beard discovered that the body's primary defense against cancer is pancreatin, a mix of enzymes that also aid in the digestion of dietary protein. Diets that contain excessive amounts of protein keep the pancreatic enzymes busy digesting protein, and consequently, these enzymes cannot focus on their other job, the eradication of cancer. Therefore, some nutritionists recommend skipping protein at one or two meals a day. Indeed, it has been suggested that the body needs a protein-free period of approximately 12 hours a day in order to be able to efficiently fight cancer.