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Medical Moment: Foods to fight colorectal cancer

Published: Jan. 3, 2022 at 8:28 PM EST
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According to the American Cancer Society, there will be about 150,000 new cases of colon cancer this year alone, and more than 50,000 deaths.

While you can’t eliminate your risk for getting colon cancer entirely, there are some things you can do to lower your risk.

You are what you eat, especially when it comes to colorectal cancer. While sugary beverages and red meat can increase your risk for colorectal cancer, there are some foods and spices that can help prevent it.

“In some instances, they function even better than some of the anti-cancer drugs we are using right now,” says Ajay Goel, director for the Center for Gastrointestinal Research Cancer Prevention at Baylor Scott & White Health. “They’re much more safer, they’re much more inexpensive and they’re a lot more potent than some of the drugs we use for treating cancer patients.”

One of them is turmeric, which contains the anti-inflammatory compound curcumin. Curcumin has been found to suppress cancer cell growth.

Also, new research from Texas A&M University reports that eating spinach can reduce colon cancer risk by 50 percent.

Other foods that can prevent colon cancer include fruits such as apples, bananas, blueberries, and raspberries; also nuts such as almonds, cashews, and macadamia nuts; whole grains; beans; legumes and fish.

A study from Vanderbilt University found women who eat three servings of fish per week reduced their risk of developing colon polyps and colorectal cancer by 33 percent.

“We should consider taking some of these things so that we can possibly prevent, we can reduce inflammation, we can prevent a lot of disease,” Goel says.

The best way to prevent cancer is to get screened early. Some people do not experience symptoms of colon cancer until the cancer is at a later stage. Doctors recommend getting a colonoscopy starting at age 45.

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