Learn More About Colorectal Cancer

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Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in the US. As obesity rates have increased, the number of colorectal cancer cases has increased as well.

AICR’S latest report on colorectal cancer found that eating fiber-rich foods, exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy weight can lower your risk. Eating high amounts of red and processed meat, drinking excess alcohol and carrying extra body fat were all linked to a higher risk.

Lifestyle and Colorectal Cancer Risk

Weight: As you gain body fat, your risk for colorectal cancer increases.

  • Being overweight and obese increases blood levels of insulin and related hormones that can encourage the growth of cancer.
  • Excess fat also creates a pro-inflammatory environment in the body that can contribute to the growth of cancer.

Alcohol: Risk for colorectal cancer increases as alcohol intake increases.

  • The body coverts alcohol into acetylaldehyde, a potent carcinogen.
  • Alcohol may act as a solvent, making it easier for carcinogens to penetrate the cells lining the colon.
  • Alcohol can adversely affect how efficiently the body repairs DNA damage and defends against free radicals.

Physical Activity: Regular physical activity protects against colorectal cancer, but a sedentary lifestyle increases your risk.

Age: The older you are, the greater your risk.

Red Meat: Diets high in beef, pork and lamb increase colorectal cancer risk, which is why AICR recommends limiting red meat to 18 ounces (cooked) per week.

  • Red meat contains heme iron, which has been linked to the kind of cellular damage that increases risk.
  • The red meat stimulates the production of carcinogenic N-nitroso compounds in the body.

Processed Meats: Regular intake of even small amounts of cold cuts, bacon, sausage and hot dogs have been shown to increase colorectal cancer risk.

  • Nitrates are added to many processed meats; they contribute to the production of N-nitroso compounds that can damange the lining of the gut.

Healthy Diet: A plant-based diet with a variety of fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains can lower risk.

  • Foods containing fiberlower risk for colorectal cancer
  • Plant foods also contain a wide variety of substances that have been linked to lower risk for cancer, including carotenoids, selenium, lycopene and many more.
  • Garlic lowers risk for colorectal cancer