The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) which is part of the World Health Organization (WHO) announced in late 2015 that processed meat can cause colorectal cancer in humans, classifying it as a Group 1 carcinogen.
Colorectal cancer affects both colon and rectum and is the third most common cancer diagnosed in the U.S. It is predicted that in 2016, this cancer will affect more than 95,000 people, while more than 39,000 will be diagnosed with rectal cancer.
Aside from helping to form, store and eliminate waste, your colon contains billions of bacteria, a healthy balance of which is essential for optimal health.
Even though this type of cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S, it is preventable and only 5 percent to 10 percent of cancer cases are due to genetic defects. 35 percent of cancer-related deaths may be due to diet, another 30 percent due to tobacco, 20 percent due to infections and the rest due to other environmental factors including exposure to radiation, stress, physical activity levels and environmental pollution.
According to the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), one-third of the most common U.S. cancer cases can be prevented with a healthy diet, being physically active and maintaining a healthy weight. There is a 50% chance to prevent colorectal cancer through these methods. Here are some:
Consume fruits and vegetables as much as possible. Vegetables are rich in antioxidants and other disease-fighting compounds that are very difficult to get anywhere else – like magnesium. According to the results of one meta-analysis, 100-milligram increase in magnesium intake will decrease the risk of colorectal tumor by 13 percent, while the risk of colorectal cancer will be lowered by 12 percent.
It was noted that magnesium’s anti-cancer effects may be linked to its ability to reduce insulin resistance. Furthermore, the phytochemicals can reduce inflammation and eliminate carcinogens, while others regulate the rate at which your cells reproduce, get rid of old cells and maintain DNA.
Vegetables are also a great source of dietary fibers. Many studies have confirmed that people with higher vegetable intake have lower cancer rates.
Sulforaphene, which can be found in cruciferous vegetables, is a naturally occurring derivative of sulforaphne that can suppress growth of colon cancer-derived tumors.
Dried plums may lower your risk of colon cancer by building your gut bacteria.
Increase your dietary fiber intake. It is linked to reducing the risk of colorectal cancer, particularly incident colorectal adenoma and distal colon cancer. For every 10 grams of fiber you add to your daily diet, your risk of colon cancer decreases by 10 percent.
According to a 2005 study, dried plums “favorably altered colon cancer risk factors” in rats, possibly due to their high content of dietary fiber and polyphenolics.
Other excellent sources of fiber are psyllium seed husk, flax seeds, hemp seeds and chia seeds.
According to a study published in the journal Gut, people with higher levels of vitamin D were less likely to develop colorectal tumors. This may be due to the fact that vitamin D is beneficial for your immune system.
“Evidence suggests protective effects of vitamin D and antitumour immunity on colorectal cancer risk.
Immune cells in tumour microenvironment can convert 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] [vitamin D] to bioactive 1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3, which influences neoplastic and immune cells
… High plasma 25(OH)D level is associated with lower risk of colorectal cancer with intense immune reaction, supporting a role of vitamin D in cancer immunoprevention through tumour–host interaction.”
Some of the ways you can get this vitamin are regular sun exposure, use of a high-quality tanning bed and/or supplementation with a vitamin D3 supplement can get your vitamin D levels into the optimal range of 50-70 ng/ml.
Avoid processed meats. They are meats preserved by smoking, curing, salting, or the addition of chemical preservatives including bacon, ham, pastrami, salami, pepperoni, hot dogs, some sausages, and hamburgers (if they have been preserved with salt or chemical additives) and more. Especially problematic are the nitrates that are added to these meats as a preservative, coloring and flavoring. These nitrates are frequently converted into nitrosamines, which are associated with an increased risk of certain cancers. AICR warns that “there is no safe threshold” for eating processed meats.
Eating more red meat will increase the risk of colorectal cancer by 24%, researchers warn. The meat itself is not the problem, but the way it is cooked and the source it comes from. Grass-fed beef, for instance, contains cancer-fighting compounds. CAFO animals are typically fed grains contaminated with glyphosate. Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup herbicide, can have a detrimental impact on healthy gut bacteria and is carcinogenic. Furthermore, Red meat cooked at high temperatures (such as barbecued or fried) may also contain carcinogenic cooking byproducts like heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).
If you enjoy red meat then go for the organically raised grass-fed meats only and cook them only lightly (rare, not well-done).
Regular exercise can significantly reduce your risk of colon cancer. According to one study, physically active men and women have about a 30 percent to 40 percent less chance of developing colon cancer compared with inactive persons.
First of all, exercise lowers your insulin levels, and this plays a big role in reducing cancer risk. Exercise triggers apoptosis and improves the circulation of immune cells in your blood.
Watch your weight. Numerous studies have confirmed that obesity is linked to an increased risk for about a dozen different cancers, including colon cancer. A 2014 study analyzed data from more than 5 million people over the age of 16, every 11-pound increase in body weight was associated with an increased risk for 10 types of cancer. When it comes to cancer prevention, losing excess belly fat is particularly important, as belly fat is linked to an increased risk of colon cancer regardless of your body weight.
Too much alcohol and cigarettes increase the risk of colorectal cancer. Even though it is best to completely eliminate alcohol, 5-ounce glass of wine, a 12-ounce beer or 1 ounce of hard liquor, with a meal, per day is considered a normal and safe amount. As for smoking, there’s no such thing as “safe amount”, so it is best to quit it.
It’s been shown in many lab studies that garlic can eliminate cancer cells. Namely, women who regularly ate garlic (along with fruits and vegetables) had a 35 percent lower risk of colon cancer. Moreover, among people with inoperable forms of colorectal, liver, or pancreatic cancer, taking an extract of aged garlic for six months helped to improve immune function.
If you decide to add raw garlic in your diet the fresh clove must be crushed or chopped in order to stimulate the release of an enzyme called alliinase, which in turn catalyzes the formation of allicin.
It is advisable for men and women over the age of 50 to have regular screening either by flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years, or by colonoscopy every 10 years since they belong to the group of having high risk of colorectal cancer. Ultrasounds have also proven to be of value. If polyps are found in their early stages, your doctor can simply snip them off right then and there. So a colonoscopy is not only a diagnostic tool, it can also serve as a surgical intervention. But, be aware that one in every 350 colonoscopies does serious harm. The death rate is about one for every 1,000 procedures. Moreover, about 80 percent of endoscopes are cleaned using Cidex (glutaraldehyde), which does NOT properly sterilize these tools.
Here are 15 more ways to lower your risk of colorectal cancer:
- Eliminate sugary drinks like soda and cut sugar from your diet
- Do more walking, try to take 10.000 steps a day.
- Consume green tea. It is rich in epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), a cancer-fighting catechin polyphenol.
- Eat steamed broccoli
- Consume Brazil nuts. They are an excellent source of selenium, a mineral that’s especially beneficial for reducing the risk of prostate, colorectal and lung cancers.
- Eat artichokes; they’re rich in silymarin, which is an antioxidant that may lower your risk of skin cancer.
- Get regular sun exposure. It will increase your vitamin D levels.
- Marinate your meat with spices, beer or wine, which can lower the formation of cancer-causing substances when you cook it.
- Eat some “resistant starches” (such as green bananas), which act like fiber in your body. They may help reduce the risk of colon cancer from a diet high in red meat.
- Normalize your ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fats by taking a high-quality krill oil and reducing your intake of processed vegetable oils, like corn, soy, and canola.
- Sleep in complete darkness; light at night suppresses your body’s production of melatonin, which has anti-cancer effects
- Eat onions. They contain cancer-fighting quercetin; quercetin inhibits the growth of cancer cells from breast, colon, prostate, ovarian, endometrial and lung tumors.
- Avoid environmental toxins, including the cancer-causing dry cleaning chemical perc (perchloroethylene).
- Avoid French fries and potato chips, which may contain high levels of cancer-causing acrylamide (a compound formed when foods are cooked at high temperatures).
- Eat fermented vegetables; they’re excellent for your gut health and the fermentation process involved in creating sauerkraut produces cancer-fighting compounds such as isothiocyanates, indoles and sulforaphane.