The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) is doing everything it can to slash cancer rates in the country. Here’s what researchers have to say about how you can cut your risk of colon cancer through the choices you make every day.
If current trends continue, one in twenty Americans will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer over the course of his/her life. Yet the latest research shows that Americans can prevent tens of thousands of these cancers by what they eat, how much they weigh, and how much they move, say experts at the AICR.
Six Steps to Reduce Your Risk
“Research shows that 45 percent of colorectal cancers in the U.S. are preventable each year through diet, staying a healthy weight, and being physically active,” says AICR Registered Dietitian Alice Bender. “That’s about 64,000 cases every year.”
For National Colon Cancer Awareness Month, Bender shares six evidence-based steps you can take to reduce your own risk.
Recommendations to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer stem from the AICR and the World Cancer Research Fund’s 2010 Continuous Update Project (CUP) Report: Colorectal Cancer. The report is the most comprehensive ever published on the link between cancer risk and lifestyle.
“Shifting into these healthy habits isn’t easy, but there are concrete steps you can take now to reduce your risk for colorectal and many other cancers,” says Bender.
Fit activity into your day
From housecleaning to running, the latest report finds that moderate physical activity – of all types – reduces the risk of colon cancer. (There is insufficient evidence to make a similar conclusion regarding rectal cancer.)
Starting Step: Find 10 minutes today to move. Whether taking a break at work or while watching TV, you can jog in place, walk the stairs, do push-ups or chair exercises. Build on that over time by taking more activity breaks or extending the 10 minutes to 30 minutes.
Stay a healthy weight and watch out for belly fat
One of the key findings from the CUP report is that excess body fat is linked to increased risk of colorectal cancer. The report also concludes that carrying excess belly fat – regardless of your weight – is a risk factor for colorectal cancer.
Starting Step: Become portion-size savvy. Choose smaller servings of calorie-packed foods like meats, cheese, juice and nuts. Limit desserts and sweets to two or three times a week in small portions.
Eat plenty of fiber
Today the evidence is clearer than ever: Eating a diet high in fiber can reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. For every 10 grams of fiber consumed daily – slightly less than a cup of beans – the risk of colorectal cancer is reduced by 10 percent.
Starting Step: Move to the AICR’s New American Plate way of eating: Fill two-thirds of your plate with vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans and nuts, and no more than one-third with animal protein such as poultry or lean red meat.
Cut the red meat and avoid processed
The latest CUP finding reaffirms earlier evidence: Eating too much red meat and processed meat increases colorectal cancer risk. The report shows that, ounce for ounce, consuming processed meat increases the risk twice as much as consuming red meat. Processed meats include hot dogs, bacon, sausage and deli meats.
Starting Step: Limit red meat consumption to 18 ounces per week – roughly the equivalent of five or six small cooked portions of beef, lamb or pork – and avoid processed meat altogether. Try fresh roasted chicken breast, hummus or peanut butter for sandwiches.
Go moderate on alcohol
The CUP report finds convincing evidence that drinking alcohol increases colorectal cancer risk in men and it probably increases the risk in women. When it comes to cancer risk, the best advice is: If you don’t drink, don’t start. For people who already drink, AICR recommends limiting alcohol to no more than two standard drinks daily for men and one for women.
Starting Step: Become aware of how much a standard drink is by measuring the following amounts and pouring it into your glassware: 5 ounces of wine, 12 oz. beer and 1.5 ounces of liquor.
Eat plenty of garlic
The CUP report judgment of the evidence suggests that a diet filled with high amounts of garlic reduces the risk of colorectal cancer.
Starting Step: Add chopped garlic to stews, stir-fries, vegetables and roasted meats. Chop the garlic then wait 10 to 15 minutes before cooking in order to activate the health-promoting ingredients.
Sharon Palmer, RD is a Registered Dietitian and writer covering health, wellness, nutrition, cooking, wine, restaurant reviews and entertainment. She is passionate about environmental issues, eco-friendly culinary practices, sustainability, food safety, humane animal practices and food security.
Sharon’s features have been published in a variety of publications, including Better Homes and Gardens, Prevention, Oxygen, LA Times, Cooking Smart, Delicious Living, Food Product Design, Today’s Dietitian, and Culinology. She has contributed to several books, including “Food & Cultural Issues for the Culinary, Hospitality and Nutrition Professions.”
Her new book, “The Plant-Powered Diet: The Lifelong Eating Plan for Achieving Optimal Health, Beginning Today,” is now available on amazon.com. For more information, please visit http://www.sharonpalmer.com.
The articles written by guest contributors are the sole responsibility of the individual writers in terms of factual accuracy and opinion and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher of this blog.