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Are you a meat lover? Include whole grains in your diet and exercise to cut colon cancer risk

The risk of colon cancer can be reduced by adding whole grains to your diet, exercising and limiting intake of alcohol, according to a recent study.

fitness Updated: Sep 08, 2017 09:54 IST
Asian News International, Washington DC
Colon cancer,Cancer,Whole grains
Eating high amounts of red meat (above 500 grams cooked weight a week) can be harmful for your health. (Shutterstock)

You may want to add whole grains, such as brown rice or whole-wheat bread, to your diet as according to a recent study, they reduce colorectal cancer risk. The more you eat whole grains, the lower the risk of cancer. The report by the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) and the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) linked whole grains independently to lower cancer risk.

Hot dogs, bacon and other processed meats consumed regularly increase the risk of colon cancer. A previous study also linked it to stomach cancer. There was strong evidence that physical activity protects against colon cancer. “Colorectal cancer is one of the most common cancers, yet this report demonstrates there is a lot people can do to dramatically lower their risk,” said lead author Edward L Giovannucci. “The findings from this comprehensive report are robust and clear: Diet and lifestyle have a major role in colorectal cancer.”

Foods containing Vitamin C such as oranges, strawberries and spinach as well as vegetables rich in fibre can lower risk of colorectal cancer. (Shutterstock)

The new report evaluated the scientific research worldwide on how diet, weight and physical activity affect colorectal cancer risk. The report analysed 99 studies, including data on 29 million people, of whom over a quarter of a million were diagnosed with colorectal cancer. Other factors found to increase colorectal cancer include: Eating high amounts of red meat (above 500 grams cooked weight a week), such as beef or pork; being overweight or obese; and consuming two or more daily alcoholic drinks (30 grams of alcohol), such as wine or beer.

The report concluded that eating approximately three servings (90 grams) of whole grains daily reduces the risk of colorectal cancer by 17%. It adds to previous evidence showing that foods containing fibre decreases the risk of this cancer. For physical activity, people who are more physically active have a lower risk of colon cancer compared to those who do very little physical activity. Here, the decreased risk was apparent for colon and not rectal cancer.

In the US, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer among both men and women, with an estimated 371 cases diagnosed each day. AICR estimates that 47% of US colorectal cancer cases could be prevented each year through healthy lifestyle changes. Giovannucci noted: “Many of the ways to help prevent colorectal cancer are important for overall health. Factors such as maintaining a lean body weight, proper exercise, limiting red and processed meat and eating more whole grains and fibre would lower risk substantially. Moreover, limiting alcohol to at most two drinks per day and avoidance or cessation of smoking also lower risk.”

The report found links between diet and colorectal cancer that were visible but not as clear. There was limited evidence that the risk increases with a low intake of both non-starchy vegetables and fruit. A higher risk was observed for intakes of less than 100 grams per day (about a cup) of each. Links to lowering risk of colorectal cancer was with fish and foods containing vitamin C. Oranges, strawberries and spinach are all foods high in vitamin C.

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First Published: Sep 08, 2017 09:53 IST