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Cancer Researchers Find Whole Grains Reduce Colon Cancer Risk

Rachel Morrell

Wheat rolls assorted on table

Research by the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) and the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) examined 99 studies that included data on 29 million people, 250,000 of whom were diagnosed with colon cancer.

The researchers found that consuming whole grains reduced the risk of colon cancer. In fact, colon cancer risk was found to be directly proportional to amount of whole grains consumed. The report concluded that eating approximately 3 servings (90 grams) of whole grains daily reduced the risk of colorectal cancer by 17 percent.

Other Factors Affecting Colon Cancer Risks

The report also determined that physical exercise affected colon cancer risk. People who were more physically active had a reduced risk for colon cancer compared to those who did not exercise. Other factors cited by the study that contribute to colon cancer risk include:

  • Having a low intake of fiber
  • Eating high amounts of red meat (above 500 grams of cooked red meat in 1 week)
  • Consuming 2 or more alcoholic drinks per day (30 grams of alcohol)
  • Being overweight or obese

Cancer-Fighting Foods Help Lower Risks

Along with increased intake of whole grains, the study found that increased intake of vitamin C decreased colon cancer risk. Good sources of vitamin C include bell peppers, citrus fruits, tomatoes, strawberries, kiwi, spinach and other dark, leafy greens. Researchers also found that those who consumed fish had a reduced risk of colon cancer. Fish is generally considered healthier than meats such as pork or beef, but it is important to purchase wild-caught rather than farm-raised fish. Wild-caught fish have a natural diet and are less likely to come into contact with bacteria and parasites.  (Source: Live Strong).

According to Edward L., Giovannucci, M.D., ScD, lead author of the report and professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, there are many daily choices that can influence our susceptibility to colon cancer development.

"Colorectal cancer is one of the most common cancers, yet this report demonstrates there is a lot people can do to dramatically lower their risk," Dr. Giovannucci stated. “The findings from this comprehensive report are robust and clear: Diet and lifestyle have a major role in colorectal cancer" (Source: Science Daily).

There are no guarantees for perfect health, but it is encouraging to know that steps may be taken to reduce the risk of colon cancer. In 2018, try to eat less red meat, boost your whole grain intake, and commit to more regular exercise. It is never too late to make some resolutions and goals for the upcoming year. Your new goals could make all the difference in colon cancer prevention.


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