Did you know that improving your diet can help prevent 75% of colon cancers?
Get lots of Folic Acid. Dried beans, green leafy vegetables, orange juice and fortified cereals are rich in this cancer fighter. Recent Louisiana State University research showed that getting 250 micrograms of folic acid daily slashed colon cancer odds by 60% in men. In a Harvard study, women who took multi-vitamins containing folic acid for 15 years cut colon cancer risk by 75%. Probable reason: Folic acid blocks DNA damage that leads to cancer.
Choose olive oil. Though fat is a suspected colon cancer villain, a new British study of diet and cancer in 28 countries, including the USA, concludes that high consumers of olive oil have a lower rate of colon cancer. That jibes with animal research showing olive oil suppresses colon tumor growth. Corn oil and animal fat increase colon cancer in animals; fish oil doesn’t. Also harmful: trans fatty acids (the partially hydrogenated fats in some margarines, baked goods and processed foods). University of Utah researchers report that a diet high in trans fats double older women’s risk of colon cancer.
Watch what you drink. Alcohol boosts colon cancer risk, perhaps by neutralizing folic acid. Wipe out this hazard by taking 600meg of folic acid daily, says Walter Willet, a nutritionist at Harvard. New research funded by the Swedish Cancer Foundation also shows that low fat milk may help guard against colon cancer. And investigators at Michigan State University say orange juice (high in folic acid) and anti-cancer chemicals called limonoids) suppresses colon cancer in animals. Coffee has no influence on colon cancer, Swedish researchers say.
Go for fruits and vegetables. Much research finds it’s hazardous to skimp on produce. A recent study by the Journal of the National Cancer Institute shows that Swedish women who ate only 1/2 a daily serving of fruit and vegetables were 65% more likely to develop colon cancer than those who ate 1 & 1/2 servings. You may cut your risk in half by pigging out on vegetables, finds another National Cancer Institute analysis..
Curb bad carbohydrates. Surprising new research suggests foods that drive up blood sugar and trigger releases of insulin (“high glycemic index” foods) may stimulate colon cancer. Those foods include refined sugar and flour, white rice, potatoes and processed cereals. In a recent Italian study, eating foods with the highest glycemic index, compared with the lowest glycemic index, raised colon cancer odds 70%.
Restrict red meat. Especially when fried or well done, red meat instigates colon cancer, experts say. One reason: High-heat cooking spurs the formation of carcinogens called heterocyclic anines (HCAs). In new research at the University of Southern California, colon cancer risk tripled in people who ate red meat well-done and doubled in those who often fried, grilled or broiled it. Most dangerous for colon: bacon, ham and other meats cured with nitrates.
Don’t neglect fiber. Many experts insist a high-fiber diet discourages colon cancer, and they’re supported by about 20 studies. Most recent: A study of 406,323 Europeans reported that a high-fiber diet cut colon cancer odds by 40%. But in two recent U.S. studies, eating a diet high in fiber (35g daily) or taking a wheat bran fiber supplement (13.5g daily) failed to prevent the recurrence of precancerous colon polyps. So the jury is still out, said study author, Arthur Schtzkin at the National Cancer Institute. He suggests that the three-to-four-year test was too brief to show suppression of polyps. Recommended: 24g fiber daily.
Lose weight. A combination of over-eating and under-exercising is the strongest link to colon cancer, says Harvard’s Willett. Research by the American Cancer Society finds obese men are nearly twice as likely to die of colon cancer as normal weight men. And fatness promotes polyp growth, recent Norwegian research finds. So cut calories and add exercise.
By: Jean Carper, Authority on food and medicine, from USA WEEKEND Magazine, March 17, 2002