Up until the last few years, colorectal cancer was thought to be at least 90 percent preventable, if you get regular colonoscopies. That’s because colon cancer begins as a polyp, which can be removed during a colonoscopy before it can become cancerous.
But a large-scale Canadian study found that colonoscopies only reduce the chance of dying from colorectal cancer by 60 to 70 percent—not the over 90 percent we once thought. What they found is that colonoscopies miss one-third of cancers on the left side of the colon, and nearly all cancers on the right side (which is where 40 percent of all colon cancers are found).
The good news is that by taking these simple steps, you can greatly decrease your colorectal cancer risk.
1. Control Your Weight: Losing excess weight is extremely important to holding down your colorectal cancer risk. A healthy weight also decreases your diabetes risk, which is important since diabetes is linked to higher rates of colorectal cancer.
2. Exercise: You want to try and exercise for at least 20-minutes, three times a week—and preferably daily. That’s because exercise helps to move your bowels.
3. Reduce Refined Carbohydrates and Increase Fiber: You want to eat a minimum of 40 grams of fiber today. I highly recommend that ground flaxseed be part of the equation; it’s high in soluble fiber (meaning it forms a gel when mixed with liquid), and its lignans give you the added bonus of enhanced immune response. Chia seeds and oatmeal are also good options.
4. Take Lactobacillus Probiotics: Which populate your colon with healthy bacteria—and help to crowd out unwanted bacteria.
5. Eat Garlic: Research has shown that high consumption (1-2 cloves daily) of raw or cooked garlic decreases the chance of colon cancer by 30 percent, and stomach cancer by 50 percent.
6. Take B Vitamins: Studies have shown a compelling connection between reduced folate levels in the blood and an increased risk of colorectal cancer. Consuming more vitamin B6 is the way to do this and has also been linked to less colorectal cancer. A good B-complex or a high-quality multi-nutrient program will give you necessary levels of these B vitamins.
7. Take Vitamin E: A 10-year study has shown a 50 percent reduction in colorectal cancer in individuals who take 200 IU of vitamin E daily. Make sure to take a source of E that includes mixed tocopherols, both gamma and d-alpha, and ideally tocotrienols.
8. Don’t Smoke and Reduce Your Alcohol Intake: Both of which are linked to higher rates of colorectal cancer as well as other cancers.
Now it’s your turn: Which of these healthy habits do you practice?