As a registered dietitian with TELUS Health MyCare™, I believe it is important for men to learn which foods help prevent colon cancer. When it comes to colon cancer prevention, there’s no such thing as ‘TMI.’ Everyone eats and poops; ideally, not at the same time, but hey, you do you. Your body stores poop in the colon and cancer affecting that final part of your digestive system is literally a pain in the butt.

Approximately 1 in 14 Canadian guys will develop colon cancer at some point. That makes it something worth learning about. As a famous 80’s cartoon action hero once said, “knowing is half the battle.” 

Thankfully these rates are declining due to factors like increased colon cancer screening and growing public awareness of the foods and habits that can reduce your risk of the disease. What are these foods and habits? Glad you asked! Here are some commonly asked questions about reducing your risk of colon cancer with diet and lifestyle choices.

What foods reduce the risk of colon cancer?

Eating plenty of fibre helps a LOT. Fibre-rich foods include:

  • Vegetables and fruits, especially cruciferous veggies like broccoli and Brussels sprouts
  • Whole grains like oats and barley
  • Legumes such as beans, lentils and chickpeas
  • Nuts and seeds

Garlic, and dairy products like cheese and yogurt, may help prevent colon cancer.

What foods increase the risk of colon cancer?

Pain in colon

Red meats like beef and lamb, and processed meats, including bacon, hot dogs and deli cold cuts, have been shown to boost the risk

Easy food swaps you can try

It’s surprisingly easy to reduce the risk of colon cancer by slowly switching up your food choices:

  • EAT LESS: Sugary breakfast cereals
  • EAT MORE: Oatmeal and bran cereals

  • EAT LESS: French fries as a side dish
  • EAT MORE: Crunchy veggie sticks and dip as a side dish

  • EAT LESS: White bread and pasta
  • EAT MORE: Whole grain bread and pasta 

  • EAT LESS: Potato chips as a snack
  • EAT MORE: Mixed nuts, fruit or trail mix

  • EAT LESS: Deli-meat sandwiches
  • EAT MORE: Roasted chicken, tuna, egg salad, or PB&J sandwiches

Does fast food cause colon cancer?

No one thing causes colon cancer, but because fast foods tend to be low in fibre and are often made with processed meats, they increase the risk of the disease. These foods are also high in calories, saturated fat and sodium, none of which do your health any favours.

Does alcohol cause colon cancer?

Knocking back more than three drinks a day increases your risk by 1.5 times. Likewise, the less alcohol you drink, the more you reduce your risk of developing ALL cancers.

If you do drink alcohol, have no more than two bevies a day and take at least two days off each week.

Does smoking cause colon cancer?

Yup, you guessed it: Smoking and being around those who smoke increases the risk. Turns out that smoking is responsible for an estimated 30 percent of all cancer deaths in Canada. The good news: It’s never too late to start quitting.

Click here to download “The Kick-Butt Guide to Quit Smoking” right now!

Does exercise help reduce the risk of colon cancer?

Yes! Regular exercise can lower the risk, partly because being obese increases the risk, and exercise helps you keep your weight in check

Also, going outside and getting active on sunny days will help increase your vitamin D levels. Vitamin D is important because it helps to create a healthy immune system. The healthier your immune system is, the better your body is at discovering abnormal cells that your body can take care of before they potentially become a problem.

Do you know who said, “knowing is half the battle”? Answer in the comments below without checking Google first! 

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