HealWithFood.org's

Guide to Nutrition and Colon Cancer: How to Reduce Your Risk of Colorectal Cancer

Your one-stop source for information on the optimal diet, the top 20 foods, and the best recipes for preventing your risk of developing colon cancer or rectal cancer.


One of the best ways to fight colon and rectal cancers, collectively known as colorectal cancers, is to prevent them from developing in the first place. In this online guide to Nutrition and Colorecral Cancer we provide you with information and tips on how you can reduce your risk of colorectal cancer.

If you don't know much about colon cancer and rectal cancer, start by reading the paragraphs below. If you already know how colorectal cancer develops, you can directly move to one of three main sections of this Nutrition and Colon Cancer Guide:


Colon polyps, fleshy growths that occur on the inside lining of the colon or the rectum, are fairly common, with about 30 percent of Americans developing them at some point in their life. These growths can be as small as a pea or large like a plum. The small ones rarely cause problems and may never be noticed. However, although the majority of colon polyps are harmless, some (about 1%) become cancerous over time. Cancerous polyps are also called adenomatous polyps or adenomas. Although some colon polyps more likely to become malignant than are others, they should all be tested for cancer by medical professionals, whether symptomatic or not.

In 2009, an estimated 146,970 adults in the United States will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer, and an estimated 49,920 people will die from the disease this year. Globally, there are nearly one million cases of colorectal cancer each year, with 655,000 deaths. The incidence of colorectal cancer is highest in the developed world and lowest in Asia and Africa.

Although anyone can develop colon polyps and colon cancer, people over 50 years of age are more likely to get it. Also people who smoke regularly, who have been diagnosed and treated for colorectal cancer previously, who have had cancer of the ovary, uterus, or breast, who are physically inactive, who suffer from ulcerative colitis or colorectal Crohn's disease, and potentially people who have been exposed to some viruses (such as to certain strains of the human papilloma virus) have an increased risk. Furthermore, a family history of colorectal cancer and certain genetic conditions, such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) and hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC) can significantly increase the risk.

In addition, certain dietary habits may predispose to colorectal cancer (which may contribute to the higher incidence in the Western world and among Asian immigrants to the United States). On the other hand, other dietary factors may play a significant role in the prevention of colon cancer and rectal cancer. About 50% of colorectal cancers have been estimated to be linked to dietary factors. To learn more about dietary factors that play a role in the development of colon cancer, continue to section Diet for Colon Cancer Prevention.