How to Prevent Colon Cancer

The appearance of colon cancer is closely related to various risk factors, dependent on lifestyle. Fortunately, small changes can prevent the disease.
How to Prevent Colon Cancer

Written by Luis Rodolfo Rojas Gonzalez, 14 September, 2021

Last update: 14 September, 2021

Colon cancer is one of the most feared diseases in older adults worldwide. It’s usually the result of genetic, nutritional and lifestyle factors that condition the proliferation of tumors in the colorectal tissue. Are you interested in knowing how to prevent colon cancer? Next up, we’ll tell you.

People over 50 years of age are the group with the highest prevalence of this pathology. Studies estimate that colorectal neoplasms are the second most common cause of cancer in men and women, with more than 1 million cases annually.

Healthy diet to prevent colon cancer

Food is the main source of macronutrients, vitamins and minerals necessary for the proper functioning and maintenance of the body. Some research suggests that diets that promote inflammation increase the risk of colon cancer. On the other hand, there are several foods capable of exerting a protective effect on the colorectal mucosa.

Foods to be excluded from the diet

Red and processed meats are the foods most closely related to colonic neoplasms. They promote the formation of carcinogens, such as nitrosamines and nitrosamides. In this sense, the greater the intake of this type of product, the greater the probability of proliferation of cancer lesions.

Similarly, harmful substances, such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, increase when red meat is cooked at high temperatures. Additionally, processed meats include a large amount of saturated fat and additives that promote tumor growth.

For this reason, experts recommend reducing the consumption of the following foods to prevent colon cancer:

  • Pork and bacon
  • Cuts of beef and lamb
  • Sausages
  • Fast food

Eggs, poultry and fish are the ideal protein substitute in the prevention of multiple types of cancer. Similarly, legumes and mushrooms are sources of protein that can be used.

Foods to be added to the diet

Diets high in fruits, vegetables, and vegetables greatly decrease the risk of developing colon cancer. The nutrients contained in these foods exert a protective effect against the development of tumor processes. Foods rich in fiber help improve gastrointestinal transit and are useful in preventing colon cancer.

Some studies suggest that for every 10-gram daily increase in fiber intake, there is a reduction of up to 10% in the risk of colorectal cancer. In this sense, it is advisable to start by adding some fiber at breakfast, such as oatmeal or cereals, with at least 6 grams of fiber per serving. Whole wheat bread is another ideal option.

Folic acid or vitamin B9 is one of the main micronutrients involved in the prevention of this pathology. It is capable of inhibiting the growth of cancer cells and can be obtained from certain foods and in supplements.

Vitamin D and vitamin B6 also reduce the risk of onset and progression to advanced stages of colon cancer. In addition, the consumption of fish rich in omega 3, foods with garlic, and dairy products is associated with a lower incidence of the disease in men and women.

High fiber diet for the prevention of colon cancer.
The fiber contained in vegetables improves intestinal transit and relieves constipation that is associated with colorectal cancer.

Healthy lifestyle to prevent colon cancer

Bad habits are triggers for multiple metabolic, inflammatory, circulatory, and neoplastic pathologies. For this reason, lifestyle modifications are part of the options available to prevent pathologies.

Physical activity and healthy weight

Being overweight and increased abdominal fat are linked to an increased risk of cancer. In this way, it is advisable to maintain a healthy weight, as well as establish a nutrition and exercise plan to reduce a few kilograms if necessary.

On the other hand, moderate-intensity physical activity reduces the probability of developing polyps in the large intestine or them evolving into tumors. In this sense, it is advisable to carry out exercise sessions of 20 to 30 minutes, 2 to 4 times a week.

Cessation of smoking

Smoking is responsible for the production and absorption of chemicals that are harmful to the body. This habit conditions the formation of almost all types of colonic polyps, as well as their progression to cancerous stages. In addition, cigarette smoking is a risk factor for lung, liver, kidney, stomach, and cervical cancer.

Quitting smoking can be a difficult task at first, especially when you have a long period with the habit. For this reason, it is recommended to start by reducing consumption progressively per day, as well as avoiding places that may promote the need to smoke.

Reduce alcohol intake

Alcohol is responsible for increasing organic demands, causing damage to multiple tissues. Excessive alcohol consumption is related to a higher prevalence of cancer and a worse prognosis in those diagnosed. For this reason, limiting intake is vital to prevent colon cancer.

Experts recommend completely abandoning the habit, however, this situation can be difficult. So the American Cancer Association suggests that men should consume no more than 2 alcoholic drinks per day, while women should only consume 1 drink per day.

Preventive drugs

At present, aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and naproxen are considered as protective drugs, capable of reducing the incidence of colon cancer. However, the side effects of these drugs put some people at higher risk.

In patients over 50 years of age who suffer from heart disease, aspirin consumption could be beneficial due to its antiplatelet and anticancer effect. However, it’s necessary to consult a doctor before starting consumption.

Hormone therapy in women, statins, bisphosphonates, and angiotensin II antagonists (ARBs) are also associated with a potential inhibitory effect on tumor cell growth. They are still being studied, so their consumption is not recommended as a measure to prevent colon cancer.

Aspirin to prevent colon cancer.
The use of aspirin as a method of preventing colorectal cancer continues to be studied. However, some professionals already prescribe it.

Early detection is the best form of prevention

Colon cancer early identification tests are the main way to prevent this condition. In this sense, patients with average risk and without a family history of the disease should begin screening at the age of 45. Methods include fecal occult blood tests and colonoscopy.

Similarly, if you have a medical history of polyps and abnormal intestinal symptoms, such as pain and blood, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible. Health specialists are trained to identify the condition and provide the most appropriate approach.

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