This Food Can Reduce Your Risk of Colorectal Cancer by 17%, Study Says
Are you a fan of carbs? If so, today I’ll give you one more reason to indulge in this important nutrient. Recent reports showed that eating more whole grains can lower your risk of colorectal cancer considerably.
The Canadian Cancer Society estimates that approximately 26,900 Canadians will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2020. What’s even worse, rectal and colon cancers are affecting more younger adults than ever before. For instance, people born in 1990 are twice more likely to be diagnosed with colorectal cancer than those born in 1950.
This might be partly due to environmental factors such as pollution combined with unhealthy diets, sedentarism and poor lifestyle choices such as smoking or alcohol consumption.
Thankfully, the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) issued a 2017 report that says people can do a lot to lower the risk dramatically. Adopting an overall healthier lifestyle can make a huge difference in reducing the risks.
One thing you can do? Eat whole grains.
Whole grains are the answer
The 2017 AICR report shows that eating whole grains daily can actually reduce the risk of developing colorectal cancer by 17 percent. This finding is backed up by previous studies which proved that foods rich in fiber can decrease the risk for this type of cancer.
For this study, researchers have gathered data from 99 different scientific studies which analyzed a total of 29 million people. More than one quarter of a million of the participants had been diagnosed with colorectal cancer.
Now, I assume you may have some questions about what whole grains are and how you can maximize their benefits. I’ll let the specialists explain:
What are whole grains?
Darrell Gray, MD at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center, says that whole grains refer to the grain’s bran and the germ.
The bran is the outer skin of the edible kernel; this component is rich in antioxidants, fiber and B vitamins. Meanwhile, the germ is the actual part that can sprout into a new plant; germs contain plenty of minerals, healthy fats, B vitamins and protein. Therefore, the whole grain is a great source of phytochemicals and antioxidants that can reduce the risk of cancer in the long run.
How many whole grains should I eat?
The study issued by AICR shows that you should eat three servings of whole grains daily (90 grams) for a 17% reduction in cancer risk to be noticed. One serving of whole grains could mean:
- ½ cup of cooked brown rice
- ½ cup of oatmeal
- 1 cup of whole-grain cereal
However, don’t let the supermarket aisles trick you. Although there are many foods rich in whole grains available (think whole grain crackers, bread, muffins or granola bars), they may not offer the same quantity of whole grains as eating the actual grain in one serving.
Still, why is the colorectal cancer risk so high?
There are multiple factors to take into consideration; overall, though, it’s mostly about your lifestyle choices. Researchers found that the following habits may increase the risk of colorectal cancer:
- Eating red meat like beef or pork frequently (aka more than 500 grams per week)
- Eating processed meats frequently (such as bacon, hot dogs or salami)
- Being obese or overweight
- Consuming more than two alcoholic beverages per day (one drink means 30 grams of alcohol)
What else can I do to reduce the risk?
The same report issued by AICR shows that people who take part in at least 30 minutes of physical activity daily are less likely to develop colon cancer (not rectal too!). Furthermore, there’s some evidence that eating foods rich in vitamin C and fish may also help in reducing the risk for this diagnosis.
Alice Bender, RDN, director of Nutrition Programs at AICR, believes that all of the studies in this direction lead to the same conclusion:
‘Replacing some of your refined grains with whole grains and eating mostly plant foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and beans, will give you a diet packed with cancer-protective compounds and help you manage your weight, which is so important to lowering risk.’
Unfortunately, there are no guarantees when it comes to cancer, except for one: living a healthy lifestyle both physically and mentally can reduce the long-term risks for developing not only cancer, but most of the other serious illnesses.
What have you done recently to be healthier? Share your experiences in the comment section and let’s chat!