Eating to Prevent Colon Cancer

Eating to Prevent Colon Cancer Did you know that colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and cause of cancer-related deaths in men and women in the U.S.? It’s true, but the good news is that better diagnostic tests and treatments continue improving early detection and survival rates. Further, studies have revealed several ways you can try to help prevent this disease.

Although some risk factors cannot be changed, like being older than age 50 and having a family and/or personal history of diabetes, polyps, colorectal cancer or inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohn’s and colitis, there are many lifestyle factors, like a sedentary lifestyle, excessive alcohol consumption and smoking, that increase the risk of colorectal cancer. Studies also indicate that some simple food-related changes may help prevent this disease.

Diet is an important factor that can help you guard against colon cancer. March is both National Colorectal Cancer Awareness and National Nutrition Month, so it is a great time to discuss how specific foods can affect your risk of this illness. To get you started, below is a list of foods that contain key nutrients linked to colon cancer prevention. These foods contain phytochemicals (compounds that give color to fruits and vegetables), phytates (antioxidants naturally found in whole grains, nuts and legumes), fiber, calcium or omega-3 fatty acids.

Healthy Food Choices
  • Blueberries provide phytochemicals as do blackberries, black raspberries and strawberries.
  • Brazil nuts and almonds are good sources of phytates and calcium. Due to the fat and calorie content of nuts, it is best to limit your daily intake to one serving.
  • Brown rice is a good low-fat source of phytates and fiber, reducing the body’s exposure to toxins.
  • Spinach and kale are recognized as superfoods because of the amount of nutrients they contain, including calcium and phytochemicals.
  • Carrots and sweet potatoes contain fiber and carotenoids, a group of phytochemicals believed to have colon cancer-prevention properties. Learn more by reading this article on MDVIP Connect »
  • Tomatoes contain high levels of lutein, a phytochemical in the carotenoid family that is found in red fruits and vegetables. Lutein’s powerful anti-cancer properties are also linked to prostate cancer-prevention.
  • Wild Alaskan salmon, Arctic char and Atlantic mackerel are significant sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Get recipes high in omega-3 fatty acids from MDVIP Connect »

What additional foods are linked to colorectal cancer prevention?  Newer studies suggest that grape seed oil and grape seed oil extract may help prevent colon cancer. As with any supplement, be sure to discuss using grape seed oil extract with your MDVIP-affiliated physician.  Learn more in this MDVIP Connect article »

Adding protective foods to your diet is important, but eliminating foods or additives that can increase your risk of disease is equally as important. Although research on nitrates is not conclusive, they should be addressed. Nitrates are a group of synthetic preservatives used to color meat red and may raise the risk of colorectal cancer. Since many foods that contain nitrates, like hot dogs and deli meats, are highly processed, it is in your best interest to limit or even avoid them; they have been linked to heart disease and several other types of cancer. Additionally, experts recommend limiting foods high in salt and unhealthy sources of saturated fat.

Cooking temperatures can also potentially impact the food we eat. Until more research is available, it’s best to avoid cooking meat at high temperatures. When meat, poultry, fish and pork are cooked at high temperatures, chemicals are formed. Some of these chemicals are carcinogenic; for instance, the chemical, heterocyclic amines (HCA), has been linked to colon cancer. Researchers have identified as many as 17 types of HCAs in meat cooked at high temperatures.

Remember that your MDVIP-affiliated physician is your best resource to guide your through prevention strategies for any illness for which you may be at risk. He or she has the time and tools to customize a plan for your colorectal health, including important screenings like colonoscopies, and if indicated, Cologuard. Don’t have an MDVIP-affiliated doctor? Find one near you by clicking here. Continue reading »
10 Comments
Liz Camp
May 21st, 2016
I never smoked, but had colon cancer. My father smoked heavily when I was young. I was the youngest, exposed to his smoke levels more than my siblings were. ===The doctor who discovered my colon cancer was totally surprised I never smoked.
Donald Moosekian
May 16th, 2015
If cancer is usually caused by oxygen deprivation developing radical cells why wouldn't one of the first treatments be a drug like Metropolol which increases oxygen efficiency in the heart and cells? Is there such a drug?
Rebecca Buller
May 15th, 2015
What are your thoughts on canned and pouch tuna? I have noticed they are usually processed in third world countries.
1 Reply
MDVIP
May 18th, 2015
Greetings Rebecca,

Thank you for writing in and asking for assistance on how to select types of tuna. Buying tuna can become quite complex when you factor in all of the variables involved like nutrition, mercury levels and cost. Generally speaking albacore (white tuna) delivers more than three times the omega-3s of skipjack (light tuna). However, since albacore are usually larger than skipjack, it contains a higher level of mercury. Canned tuna is less expensive, but tends to have higher mercury levels than pouch tuna. Lastly, you are correct, much of the U.S. seafood supply, which includes tuna, is caught in, and imported from, foreign countries. We’ve included two articles to give you a better understanding of buying tuna and importing fish.

In Good Health,
MDVIP

What You Should Know About Tuna

10 Things You Should Know About the U.S. Seafood Supply

Bess Heitner
Mar 31st, 2015
My doctor recently told me to avoid wild Alaska salmon (deemed the best usually) because it has been contaminated with radiation drifting over from Fukushima. I guess it will take years, maybe decades to go away. I generally sear my fish on a very high flame and then look it slowly over the stove in a covered saucepan. Does this seem OK? Finally, believe it or not, I was eating fish 7 days a week - don't care for meat and chicken - and wound up with mercury levels 2.5 times what it should be. So that old saw about everything in moderation is true.
1 Reply
MDVIP
Apr 1st, 2015
Greetings Bess,

Thank you for sharing your experiences of including fish in your diet. As for salmon, the Food and Drug Administration has been monitoring the waters of the Pacific for radiation for years. While they deem the fish safe for consumption, they are concerned that radioisotopes may reach our waters within two years. However, it is always best to heed your physician’s advice. Therefore, if you are looking for Atlantic coast fish that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, consider Atlantic mackerel and wild Atlantic herring. According to the National Cancer Institute, grilling, searing and panfrying meat, fish and poultry are not what cause carcinogenics like HCA and PAH to form. Cooking foods at high temperatures and charring meat – especially higher than 300 degree F – is what is actually unsafe. Experts recommend a minimum temperature of 145 degrees F, so consider using a meat thermometer to reach the correct temperature. We’ve included an article that provides a more in depth explanation of the toxins that can form while cooking – http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-cooking-carcinogens. Lastly, to control the amount of mercury you intake, limit the amount of shark, swordfish, tilefish and king mackerel (not the same fish as Atlantic mackerel) that you eat. Remember to eat a variety of foods, as limiting them – even healthy ones like fish – tends to restrict the types of nutrients you are getting into your diet.

In Good Health,
MDVIP

Jim Conlan
Mar 30th, 2015
Can you share more on cooking temperatures and suggestions on scientific literature on this subject.
Thank you.
1 Reply
MDVIP
Mar 30th, 2015
Greetings Lawrence and Jim,

Thank you both for asking for clarification on safe cooking temperatures. Generally speaking, experts suggest cooking meat at 300 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. However, for a more in depth explanation, as well as a summary of the current literature, you may want to read this article from Precision Nutrition. Please let us know if you need further information. http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-cooking-carcinogens

In Good Health,
MDVIP


Steve Colferai
Mar 27th, 2015
I also find a daily exercise regimen being very important also in combatting colon cancer. Every now and then eating a freshly opened coconut over a few days is a great source of fiber and the strained water is an excellent source of potassium and electrolytes.
But how much alcohol is ok?
1 Reply
MDVIP
Mar 30th, 2015
Greetings Steve,

Thank you for your additional tips about avoiding colon cancer. Yes, many studies show that exercise helps the body battle cancer. According to a story that was on CBS News on March 27th, cardiovascular respiratory fitness can cut the risk of cancer death. Read the whole story here – http://www.cbsnews.com/news/cancer-study-men-finds-cardio-exercise-may-reduce-risk-cancer-death-risk/. And recent research shows the multiple wellness benefits of coconut, including healthy fats, antioxidants, fiber and nutrients. While the American Heart Association suggests that men can enjoy two drinks per day and one drink for women, we suggest you consult with your MDVIP-affiliated physician for recommendations on what is best for your particular health situation.

In Good Health,
MDVIP
lawrence h jones
Mar 27th, 2015
"meats, poultry, fish, and pork", what is/or the "right" temperatures to cook these?
Ann Murphy
Mar 26th, 2015
Your emails are coming in all jumbled up...messages on top of message etc
1 Reply
MDVIP
Apr 8th, 2015
Greetings Ann,

We're sorry to hear you are having issues with some of our emails. We occasionally see this situation while viewing emails on a mobile device that has large fonts turned on in the settings. As we work to optimize our content for all platforms and devices, you can see a clearer version by clicking the "view online" link on your mobile device or by reading it on a desktop computer.

In Good Health,
MDVIP

Hope Hamilton
Mar 26th, 2015
What about eating lots of fiber and drinking lots of water and/or liquids, to keep the colon cleared out?
1 Reply
MDVIP
Mar 26th, 2015
Greetings Hope,

We appreciate you comments about helping prevent colon cancer by being concerned about what you eat. Yes, fiber is an important component to lowering your risk of cancer. And it’s easy to include in your diet by eating a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and beans – like the ones we mentioned in the article. Or try others that you may prefer instead. They are all very high in fiber and offer their own special nutrients and antioxidants – all of which are important for colon health. Thank you for mentioning water, as well. It is very important to keeping the colon healthy. Some experts agree that drinking green teas can also be helpful. Thank you for your added suggestions.

In Good Health,
MDVIP

Joan M. Gruver
Mar 25th, 2015
Great information
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