It's true that steps taken now for colon cancer prevention can help in the long run. Especially if this type of cancer runs in your family, you may be concerned about ways to slash your risk. Well, we have G\great news from the American Cancer Society: The number of folks getting colon cancer has plunged 30 percent in the last 10 years, thanks to increased awareness and healthy lifestyle changes aiding cancer prevention.
Even better news? These simple natural strategies can power up your protection even more. In addition to not smoking, being active and eating lots of fiber-rich veggies, new research reveals that taking the right supplements can pump up your protection. Read on for the best tips for protecting your health.
Daily walks reduce your colon cancer risk by 38 percent.
Getting at least 30 minutes of exercise a day—leisurely strolls count!—cuts your risk of colon cancer 38%, studies show. Exercise helps keep you regular, the ticket to clearing irritants and toxins from your digestive tract before they can cause harm. Too busy for a 30-minute exercise break? Three 10-minute bursts of activity can be just as protective, say Stanford University researchers.
Spices reduce inflammation.
Flavoring your food with 1/2 tsp. of curry powder, black pepper, cumin, cayenne, oregano, rosemary or turmeric daily can send your colon-cancer risk down as much as 20%, reports the Journal of Ethnopharmacology. Each of these spices contains compounds that halt inflammation in the digestive tract before it can cause trouble, the study authors say. To maximize the benefit, choose poultry over red meat when possible. While diets loaded with red meat are linked to a higher incidence of colon cancer, poultry doesn’t raise your risk at all!
Protein can keep you steady.
Wild blood-sugar fluxes speed the growth of abnormal colon cells, raising your cancer risk 25 percent. Avoid them by including a few ounces of sugar-steadying protein (meat, poultry, fish, nuts or eggs) in every meal.
Coleslaw lowers your colon cancer risk by 18 percent.
Simply eating two cups of cabbage each week—that's just a little more than a quarter cup of coleslaw a day—could cut your risk of ever developing colon cancer 18%, several new studies suggest. “One of the active ingredients in cabbage, called sinigrin, stops cancer cells from dividing, the same way that many anticancer drugs do, but without their risk of side effects,” explains lead researcher Ian Johnson, Ph.D.
Ginger tea fights off precancerous cells.
Sipping 12 oz. of invigorating ginger tea ($16 for 30 tea bags, Amazon.com) daily could rev your production of cancer-killing immune system cells in as little as one week. This spicy, aromatic brew is rich in compounds that stimulate your immune system to react more aggressively to precancerous cells. To brew: Add 6-12 thin slices of fresh, peeled ginger root to 2 cups of boiling water. Simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat; strain and sweeten to taste.
Nuts fight abnormal cells, too.
Pistachios, almonds, walnuts and macadamias all contain a protective compound (beta-sitosterol) that stops the growth of 33% of suspicious colon cells on contact, say researchers at Buffalo’s State University of New York. Eat 1/2 cup daily for best results. We recommend trying this Gourmet Nut Platter ($15 for 18oz. mixed nuts, Amazon.com.) Allergic to nuts? Avocados are also packed with beta-sitosterol.
Probiotics prevent polyps.
Consuming one cup of yogurt (the kind containing live bacterial cultures), or 4 oz. of kefir each day, can cut your risk of precancerous growths in your intestines as much as 50%, reveals research out of St. Paul’s University of Minnesota. The healthy bacteria in these fermented milk products speed the breakdown of toxins, helping your body excrete them before they can damage your digestive tract lining and set the stage for precancers.
Vitamin D-3 reduces your colon cancer risk by 50 percent.
A University of California at San Diego study found that folks with the highest levels of vitamin D-3 are half as likely to get colon cancer compared with folks who have less. “D-3 helps control how colon cells behave,” says Michael Holick, M.D., professor of medicine at Boston University. Dose: 2,000 IU of D-3 daily. (Check with your doctor first.)
Supplements for Colon Cancer Prevention
If you're interested in taking supplements for colon cancer prevention, a multivitamin can be a good place to start. Taking 400 mcg. daily of folic acid (the amount in most multivitamins) for 15 years cuts colon-cancer risk up to 75 percent, the Nurses’ Health Study found. Curious about other supplements that have benefits for cancer prevention?
Lutein turns off abnormal genes.
The deep yellow pigment that helps jazz up the color of egg yolks, corn and leafy greens also switches off the genes that allow abnormal colon cells to divide and spread. How effective is it? Taking a 20-mg. supplement daily could cut your risk of colon cancer in half, reports the journal Nutrition and Cancer. Bonus: Lutein nourishes eye tissues, reducing your odds of cataracts 22 percent.
Fish oil blocks toxins.
Your colon-cancer risk will plunge 45 percent if you take 3,000 mg. of fish oil daily. The reason, Japanese scientists say, is that fish oil’s omega-3 fats block absorption of cancer-causing chemicals in the digestive tract. Bonus: Fish oil prods your brain to make more mood-boosting serotonin, cutting your risk of depression three-fold.
Ginger root beats inflammation.
Taking a 2,000-mg. Ginger root supplement daily shuts down intestinal inflammation — the number-one trigger of precancerous colon polyps — in 28 days, reveals a University of Michigan study. Thanks goes to tissue-healing compounds called gingerols found only in the spicy root. Bonus: Gingerols also help tame arthritis pain.
IP6 cuts risk 55 percent.
Taking 1,600 mg. daily of IP6 — a B vitamin-like nutrient — can cut your risk of colon cancer 55 percent, according to University of Maryland studies. IP6 soaks into intestinal cells and forces them to grow normally, explains lead researcher Abulkalam Shamsuddin, Ph.D. For an extra boost, take its close cousin inositol, too. “When inositol is paired with IP6, this powerful duo actually forces precancerous cells in the colon to revert back to normal.” Bonus: IP6 makes blood less sticky, cutting your risk of a heart-attack-triggering clot in half.