Natural Approach to Colon Cancer Prevention

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There are a number of ways to help prevent colon cancer. In addition to receiving medical tests that help detect the disease early on, you can make lifestyle changes to reduce your colon cancer risk.

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Tips For Preventing Colon Cancer

Natural Remedies for Colon Cancer Prevention

To date, few natural remedies or alternative therapies have been found to play a significant role in colon cancer prevention. However, preliminary research suggests that the following substances may help reduce colon cancer risk to some degree. Here's a look at some key study findings:

Vitamin D

High blood levels of vitamin D may be linked to a lower risk of colon cancer, according to a 2019 study. Analyzing data on 5706 people with colorectal cancer and 7107 healthy individuals, researchers determined that women with the highest levels of vitamin D had a statistically-significant reduced risk of colon cancer compared to those with the lowest levels. For men the risk was reduced, but not to a statistically significant degree.

Folate

Making sure you consume enough food sources of folate (a B vitamin found in foods like spinach, asparagus, and fortified cereals) may lower your risk of colon cancer, according to a 2015 systematic review and meta-analysis. However, the research is mixed and more studies are needed. The recommended daily intake of folate is 400 mcg for most adults. Pregnant women should consume 600 mcg daily while breastfeeding women should consume 500 mcg daily.

Quercetin

In lab tests on cell cultures, scientists have demonstrated that quercetin may help stall the growth of colon cancer. What's more, a 2012 population-based study of 2,664 people found that dietary intake of quercetin may be linked with reduced risk of colon cancer in the proximal colon (first and middle parts). However, this link was not found for colon cancer in the distal colon (last part) and was not seen in those who already had a high tea intake.

An antioxidant available in supplement form, quercetin is naturally found in foods like apples, onions, and berries.

Tea

A lab study published in 2015 suggests that white tea may help inhibit the growth of colon cancer cells and protect normal cells against DNA damage.

Green tea has also been found to fight colon cancer in animal-based research and test-tube studies. However, the available scientific data are insufficient to conclude that any type of tea may prevent colon cancer in humans.

Other Approaches to Prevention

To lower your risk of colon cancer, try these strategies recommended by the American Cancer Society:

Screening

Most people should begin regular colon cancer screening at age 45. However, those with a family history of colon cancer (or with other risk factors for the disease) should consult their physician about starting screening before age 45.

Healthy Diet

Eating five or more servings of a variety of fruits and vegetables each day, choosing whole grains over processed grains, and cutting back on processed and red meats may help prevent colon cancer.

Exercise

For colon cancer prevention, aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise on five or more days of the week. Getting at least 45 minutes of moderate or vigorous activity five or more times weekly may further reduce your colon cancer risk.

Limiting Alcohol Intake

In addition to avoiding smoking, you should avoid or limit your alcohol intake to no more than one drink per day for women or two drinks per day for men.

NSAIDs and Colon Cancer Prevention

A number of studies suggest that people who regularly use aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) have a lower risk of colon cancer. However, since NSAIDs can cause serious side effects (including bleeding from stomach irritation), it's important to consult your physician before taking these drugs on a regular basis. In fact, the American Cancer Society notes that it "does not recommend taking NSAIDs just to lower colorectal cancer risk if you are someone at average risk."

Causes of Colon Cancer

In most cases, colon cancer begins with the formation of precancerous growths (polyps) that become cancerous over time. Although the cause of colon cancer is unknown, the following may increase the risk for the disease:

Colon Cancer Symptoms

Although colon cancer often produces no symptoms, some people with colon cancer may experience the following:

  • A change in bowel habits (such as diarrhea or constipation)
  • Persistent abdominal pain or discomfort
  • Tenderness in the lower abdomen
  • Rectal bleeding or bloody stool
  • Intestinal obstruction
  • Narrow stools
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Unexplained anemia
  • Fatigue

If you notice any symptoms of colon cancer, consult your doctor as soon as possible.

Alternative Medicine and Colon Cancer Prevention

Due to the lack of science behind their colon-cancer-fighting effects, it's important not to rely solely on any of the above natural remedies as a means of colon cancer prevention. If you're considering using natural remedies, make sure to consult your physician first. Self-treating and avoiding or delaying standard care can have serious consequences.

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