Study: Eat Whole Grains and Less Meat to Avoid Colon Cancer

What if eating things like oatmeal and quinoa could lower your risk of developing colorectal cancer? According to a recent report, eating whole grains and avoiding processed meat might have a huge impact on your cancer risk. 

Read about colon cancer and complex carbs

Eating whole grains daily reduces the risk of colorectal cancer, a report by the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) and the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) found. This report marks the first time research by the AICR/WCRF has linked whole grains independently to lower cancer risk. Researchers analyzed 99 studies, which included data on 29 million people–over a quarter of whom were diagnosed with colorectal cancer. 

Eating about three servings (90 grams) of whole grains daily reduces the risk of colorectal cancer by 17 percent, the report specifically found. It also concluded that “consumption of whole grains probably protects against colorectal cancer.” As well, the report links the consumption of fish and foods containing vitamin C with a lower risk. Eating milk and dairy products “probably protects against colorectal cancer,” as does taking calcium supplements. 

The report found that eating things like hot dogs, bacon and other processed meats regularly increases the risk of colorectal cancer, and strong evidence that physical activity protects against colon cancer. The report found that eating more than 500 grams of red meat a week increases the risk for colorectal cancer, as does having two or more daily alcoholic drinks (30 grams of alcohol), and being overweight or obese. Low intake of non-starchy vegetables and fruit was found to have limited evidence to increase colorectal cancer risk. 

Read more about the link between junk food and colon cancer

The report “demonstrates there is a lot people can do to dramatically lower their risk” of developing colorectal cancer, said Edward L. Giovannucci, MD, ScD, lead author of the report and professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, in a statement. “The findings from this comprehensive report are robust and clear: Diet and lifestyle have a major role in colorectal cancer.”

"When it comes to cancer there are no guarantees, but it’s clear now there are choices you can make and steps you can take to lower your risk of colorectal and other cancers,” said Alice Bender, MS, RDN, AICR Director of Nutrition Programs.

Read about colon cancer and red meat

Colorectal cancer is prevalent in North America. It is the third most common cancer in the U.S. and the second most common in Canada. In both countries, it is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in women, and the second leading cause in men. On average, 73 Canadians will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer daily, and 26 will die from it every day. There are estimated to be 371 cases diagnosed every day in the U.S., and 47 percent of them could be prevented annually through healthy lifestyle choice, according to the AICR.

By Gina-Marie Cheeseman| September 14, 2017
Categories:  Eat

About the Author

Gina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer armed with a passion for healthy living and a degree in journalism. Hailing from the dry, sunny Central San Joaquin Valley, she hasn't let the heat fry her brain!

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