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Guide to Preventing Colon Cancer   ( Home | Diet | Foods | Recipes )

Diet Plan for Fighting Colorectal Cancer (Cont'd)

Looking for a diet plan for fighting colorectal cancer? Look no further! This article discusses the key elements of the Colon Cancer Prevention Diet.

Note that this is the second page of an in-depth article on fighting colorectral cancer through diet. If you missed the first page, click here.

Vitamin D, abundant in egg yolks, helps the body get rid of carcinogenic digestive acids.

#9:  Be Sure to Get Enough Vitamin D

Vitamin D has been shown to reduce colon cancer risk by helping the body get rid of lithocholic acid, a highly toxic and carcinogenic digestive acid that is produced when red meat is consumed. Colon cancer patients generally show high concentrations of lithocholic acid. It appears that the body uses the vitamin D receptor — which is better known for its involvement in regulating calcium levels — to detoxify this harmful acid. The best sources of vitamin D include liver, egg yolks, fish, and vitamin-D fortified milk products. The body can also make vitamin D when it is exposed to sunlight.

#10:  Limit Consumption of Animal Fat

Reduce fat intake especially from animal fat. A high dietary intake of animal fat (more than 40% of total caloric intake) has been associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer and adenomas while a low dietary intake of fat (less than 15% of total caloric intake) has been shown to correlate with a low incidence of colorectal adenomas and colon cancer. One particular compound that seems to play a role in this context is arachidonic acid found primarily in fatty red meats, egg yolks and organ meats. This omega-6 fatty acid has been shown to promote cancer growth and to facilitate its spread within the body.

In contrast, omega-3 fatty acids, found in fatty fish such as salmon and mackerel and in a few other foods including flaxseed and walnuts, are believed to have a protective effect against colorectal cancer when consumed in moderation. Eskimos, who eat significant amounts of fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids have a low rate of colorectal cancer. Also laboratory studies have found that omega-3 fatty acids can prevent worsening of colon cancer. The beneficial effects of omega-3 fats may be at least partly due to their ability to reduce rectal epithelial cell proliferation.

However, despite omega-3s' colon cancer fighting properties, it is wise to limit the total intake of fat to approximately 20% of total caloric intake because all dietary fat stimulates the production of bile, which in turn increases the apocholic acid and lithocholic acid in the gut, both of which are known to have carcinogenic properties. Some researchers also hypothesize that the high calorie content of fat could be a key reason why diets high in fat have been shown to promote colorectal cancer.

Dark green vegetables are often rich in carotenoids.

#11:  Get Enough Vitamin A and Carotenoids

Research suggests that there is an inverse relationship between the risk of cancer and the consumption of foods rich in vitamin A and its precursors, the carotenoids. Carotenoids are phytochemicals that give many fruits and vegetables — including kale, spinach, collard greens, carrots, cantaloupe, sweet potato — their green, orange, and yellow colors. The most common carotenoids in the Western diet include beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein and zeaxanthin. The protective effect of carotenoids appear to be particularly strong for lung cancer, but also the risk of colon cancer may be reduced by including plenty of foods rich in carotenoids and vitamin A in diet.

#12:  Avoid Foods That May Be Contaminated with Aflatoxins

Carcinogenic substances can occur in foods when certain types of fungus grow on food producing toxins during processing, storage, or transport. These toxins include aflatoxins which are known to cause cancer. Peanuts appear to be particularly susceptible to contamination with aflatoxins, but also many other types of foods, including grains, legumes, nuts, and spices are vulnerable to the fungus producing aflatoxins. Aflatoxins are resistant to cooking and freezing, but care in selecting your foods can greatly reduce your risk of exposure to these toxins:

  • Select fresh seeds, nuts, legumes, and grains (or at least avoid nuts and grains from last year's harvest)
  • Look for signs of proper storage and avoid foods from countries that have substandard storage requirements
  • Discard nuts that taste stale or look suspicious
  • Eat green vegetables that are rich in chlorophyll to further reduce the risk of harmful impacts of aflatoxins; chlorophyll has been shown to reduce aflatoxins levels

#13:  Eat Plenty of Foods Rich in B Vitamins

Vitamin B is in fact a complex of several vitamins that often work together and co-exist in the same foods. Research suggests that a sufficient intake of the B vitamins may significantly reduce the colon cancer risk. High intakes of vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) have been shown to significantly reduce the risk of colorectal cancer, particularly among the elderly and people who consume large amounts of alcohol. Also deficiencies of vitamins B9 (folate), B2 (riboflavin), and B12 have been linked to an increased risk of colorectal cancer.

#14:  Ensure A Sufficient Intaker of Calcium and Magnesium

Calcium is known for its role in supporting strong bones and teeth, but in recent years calcium has also been heralded for its potentially protective effects against colorectal cancer. Calcium reduces the rate at which epithelial cells lining the colon multiply, which in turn reduces the risk of colon cancer. It also binds cancerous bile acids, thereby reducing the risk of the colon wall becoming irritated. However, calcium appears to be protective against colorectal cancer only in the presence of sufficient magnesium levels. A calcium-to-magnesium ratio of 2:1 is often advised; however, individual differences can greatly alter the ideal ratio. Furthermore, to get the most out of calcium's health benefits, combine calcium rich foods with foods high in vitamin D. Vitamin D promotes the absorption of calcium from food in the intestines.

#15:  Push Up Your Selenium Levels

Several population studies suggest that the risk of death from colorectal cancer is lower among people with a higher intake of the trace mineral selenium. Death rates from colorectal cancer are significantly lower in areas of the world where selenium is abundant in the soil than in areas where selenium levels are low. Selenium is believed to reduce cancer risk in two ways: First, it is a key constituent of glutathione peroxidase, an enzyme with strong antioxidant powers. Second, selenium is thought to prevent tumor growth by boosting the immune system and by inhibiting the development of blood vessels to the tumor. It is recommended that you get your selenium from foods rather than through supplements; high-dose selenium supplements can be risky as the margin between safe and unsafe doses of selenium is narrow.

For more information on the nutritional approach to combating colon cancer, continue to: