When it comes to colon cancer, there are many factors that you cannot control. It’s impossible to eliminate risk factors such as age, race and ethnicity, family history, health conditions and genetic syndromes.
Other colon cancer risk factors include obesity, a low-fiber/high-fat diet and a sedentary lifestyle. New research suggests that gender can also influence colon cancer risk. For example, a recent study on mice found that males who eat a high-fat diet can develop harmful gut inflammation, making them more susceptible to colon cancer.
Inflammation and Colon Cancer Risk in Mice
A multi-institutional research team studied male and female mice to compare the levels of an inflammatory marker associated with colon cancer risk. When the mice ate a control diet, males had higher levels of this marker.
When the research team fed all mice a high-fat diet, both genders experienced increased inflammation. However, only females had reduced inflammation when the team combined exercise with a high-fat diet.
“Taken together, these findings suggest that males respond poorly to a high-fat diet, causing inflammation and increased cell proliferation, making them at greater risk for colon cancer,” the research team wrote (Medical Xpress).
How to Eat a Low-Inflammation Diet to promote Colon Health
Even though this study suggests that males are at increased risk for colon cancer, it’s important to remember that anyone can develop the disease. It’s important to take intentional steps to decrease risk factors within your control, like eating a healthy, anti-inflammatory diet.
Begin with removing high-fat, inflammatory foods from your diet. Foods that cause inflammation include refined carbohydrates, fried foods, processed foods, sweetened beverages, red meat and processed meat.
Then, replace inflammatory foods with fresh, nutritious foods that fight inflammation. Here is a list of several foods that do not cause inflammation.
- Cruciferous vegetables—Broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and kale are rich in antioxidants that fight inflammation and prevent cancer and heart disease.
- Berries—Blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and strawberries have plenty of fiber, vitamins and antioxidants called anthocyanins.
- Avocados—A small avocado includes high amounts of fiber, potassium, magnesium and heart-healthy monounsaturated fats that reduce inflammation.
- Fatty fish—Salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies, tuna and sardines are high in DHA and EPA, two types of omega-3 fatty acids that actively fight inflammation.
- Green Tea—This is one of the best beverages you can consume because green tea has a substance called epigallocatechin-3-gallate, an anti-inflammatory.
- Turmeric—Turmeric contains curcumin, which is known to reduce symptoms of arthritis and reduce inflammation. To maximize the absorption of the curcumin in turmeric, add black pepper to the dish you are preparing.
- Extra virgin olive oil—The Mediterranean diet is getting lots of attention because it contains high amounts of extra virgin olive oil, which reduces the risk of heart disease, cancer and other chronic health conditions.
- Dark chocolate—You can still have dessert, but choose dark chocolate! The flavanols in dark chocolate keep inflammation levels low and arteries healthy.
- Tomatoes—High in vitamin C and lycopene, tomatoes contain potent antioxidants.
- Mushrooms—Lion’s mane mushrooms are mighty in lowering obesity-related inflammation (Healthline).
Call Your GI Doctor to Schedule a Colonoscopy
While a low-inflammation diet can help prevent colon cancer, the best way to lower your risk is a colon cancer screening. There are many methods of screening, but the gold standard is colonoscopy. Unlike a stool test, a colonoscopy allows your doctor to inspect the entire colon and remove any precancerous growths called polyps.
The American Cancer Society recommends that all adults at average risk for colon cancer begin screening at age 45. However, if you are at high risk for colon cancer (history of colon polyps, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s Disease and certain genetic conditions), or if you have digestive symptoms, you should get screened earlier. Call your gastroenterologist today and make an appointment for a colonoscopy.