Colon cancer is one of the most frequently diagnosed malignancies in the United States. Like most other tumors, it begins with cellular DNA changes that cause the cells to grow and divide uncontrollably. In the case of colon cancer, the excess cells then bind together and form abnormal masses in the large intestine.
The precise triggers of the DNA mutations that lead to the development of colon tumors are not yet fully understood within the general medical community. However, researchers have identified several colon cancer risk factors, some of which are lifestyle-related and can be controlled. Most notably, diets high in inflammatory foods, such as white bread and sugary snacks, have been linked to a heightened risk of colon cancer.
Protect your health with proper nutrition
Good eating habits can help ward off many health issues, including certain types of cancer. More specifically, to help prevent colon cancer, many experts recommend a diet that is rich in these seven types of food:
- Colorful fruits – Most fruits are excellent sources of fiber, antioxidants and phytochemicals, all of which can reduce the risk of digestive issues and colon cancer. Some healthy and delicious choices include apples, berries, cantaloupes, mangoes, oranges and pears.
- Non-starchy vegetables – Many vegetables contain health-enhancing fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. However, excessive consumption of starchy vegetables, such as potatoes, corn and peas, can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, which is not only a serious health issue but also a risk factor for colon cancer. Therefore, it’s best to focus on non-starchy vegetables, such as artichokes, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucumbers, kale, lettuce and spinach.
- Fresh fish – Certain types of fish, such as herring, mackerel, salmon, sardines and tuna, are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which can help reduce inflammation throughout the body. This is important because chronic inflammation causes continuous cell turnover, which has been linked to many types of cancer, including colon cancer.
- White meats – A sufficient amount of protein is essential for muscle development and tissue growth. However, red and processed meats, such as beef, pork, lamb, hot dogs, pepperoni and cold cuts, have been directly linked to an increased risk of colon cancer. Healthier alternatives include white meats, such as skinless chicken and turkey, and eggs.
- Beans and legumes – Another excellent source of protein—as well as fiber, vitamin B and vitamin E—can be found in beans and legumes, such as soybeans, lentils, black beans, kidney beans and pinto beans. In addition to reducing colon cancer risk, beans and legumes can also help reduce cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
- Whole grains – Packed with essential fiber, whole grains pair well with fresh fish, white meats and eggs. The most nutritious options include barley, brown rice and quinoa.
- Nuts – Packed with healthy fatty acids, fiber and flavonoids, nuts can reduce the risk of both type 2 diabetes and colon cancer. The best picks are tree nuts, such as almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios and macadamia nuts.
Questions about colon cancer? Turn to Moffitt Cancer Center
If you would like to explore your colon cancer risk profile with a specialist, you can rapidly connect with an experienced oncologist in the Gastrointestinal Oncology Program at Moffitt Cancer Center. Request an appointment by calling 1-888-663-3488 or completing our new patient registration form online. When you entrust your health and well-being to Moffitt, you can feel confident that you are a top priority of a cancer center that delivers nationally ranked care in new and transformative ways.