As a registered dietitian with TELUS Health MyCare™, I believe it is important for men to learn which foods help prevent colorectal cancer. When it comes to colorectal cancer prevention, there’s no such thing as ‘TMI.’ Everyone eats and poops. Your body stores poop in the colon and cancer affecting that final part of your digestive system is literally a pain in the butt.

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of death from cancer in Canadian men. 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 colorectal cancer screening and growing public awareness of the foods and habits that can reduce your risk of the disease.

Here are some commonly asked questions about how to reduce your risk of colorectal cancer with diet and lifestyle choices.

What foods reduce the risk of colorectal 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 colorectal cancer.

What foods increase the risk of colorectal cancer?

Pain in colon

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

Easy food swaps to try

Here are simple ways to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer by switching up your food choices:

  • LESS sugary breakfast cereals; MORE oatmeal and bran cereals
  • LESS fries; MORE veggie sticks and dip
  • LESS white bread and pasta; MORE whole grain alternatives
  • LESS potato chips; MORE nut mixes
  • LESS deli meat; MORE roasted chicken, egg salad, or PB&J

Does fast food cause colorectal cancer?

No one thing causes colorectal 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 favour your health.

Does alcohol cause colorectal 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 2 drinks a day and take at least 2 days off each week.

Does smoking cause colorectal cancer?

Yup. 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 colorectal 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 essential 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 it can take care of before they 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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