Frankly the numbers are shocking.
Over 135,000 people are diagnosed with colorectal cancer every year. That translates into about 1 in 20 Americans receiving a diagnosis in their lifetime. And around 50,000 people will die from the disease every year.1,2,3
Both age and genetics play a big role in who develops this sometimes deadly cancer. And your risk rises with age, with most folks being diagnosed in their mid-60s to mid-70s.1
But it’s not all bad news. Because while it’s true you can’t do anything to change your age or genetics most experts believe you can drastically slash your chances of ever receiving this devastating diagnosis. And one of the best ways to do that is by making some simple changes to your diet.
Following are four foods that could help reduce your risk for developing colorectal cancer, and boost your chances of recovering from this killer disease should it still strike.
If almonds aren’t in your regular snack lineup it’s time to change that. These delicious nuts already have a stellar reputation, reportedly helping to reduce your risk from everything from heart disease to type 2 diabetes.4,5 And now it looks like you can add colon cancer to that list.
Almonds are rich in magnesium, which could turn out to be the key to beating colorectal cancer. In fact, one study revealed that for every 100 mg of magnesium that’s added to your daily diet you can reduce your risk for a colorectal growth by a healthy 13 percent.
And if you should develop a growth such as polyp or benign tumor the same amount of daily magnesium could slash your risk of it progressing to full blown colorectal cancer by 12 percent!6
A handful of almonds, about one ounce or 23 nuts, delivers around 76 mg of magnesium. Spinach, chard, dark chocolate, pumpkin seeds, dried figs and white beans are all also good sources of this mineral. While overloading on magnesium from food sources would be tough, don’t go overboard. Huge doses of the mineral could cause unwanted side effects such as diarrhea, and they could even be dangerous in folks with kidney problems.
Almonds are also rich in other important nutrients for dietary tract health that could help reduce your colorectal cancer risk. For example, a cup of almonds contains over 17 grams of fiber as well as healthy amounts of calcium and monounsaturated fats.7
2. Chili peppers:
You’ve probably heard of capsaicin before. It’s the substance that puts the hot into hot peppers.
If you’ve followed our advice on boosting your metabolism and losing weight earlier this year you might have already made this fiery food part of your regular routine. Well, it turns out if you did you were also likely helping to lower your colorectal cancer risk at the same time!
Animal research has revealed that capsaicin can help halt tumor development in the gut by blocking a specific pain receptor known as TRPV1. And when mice that already had tumors were fed capsaicin it not only curbed the growth of those tumors it extended the lifespans of the little critters by over 30 percent!8
As strange as it seems, capsaicin is a proven anti-inflammatory which could very well be behind its tumor suppressing abilities. If you’re a fan of hot stuff bump up the capsaicin in your diet by adding more hot peppers such as jalapenos, chili peppers and cayenne to your dishes. If you simply can’t take the heat paprika is another capsaicin-rich option. Or looks for supplements in your local health food store or online.
3. Dark chocolate:
Talk about a “prescription” we all can love. It turns out eating more polyphenol rich dark chocolate could help protect you against colon cancer. The phytochemicals found in cocoa help block the oxidative stress that can trigger colorectal cancers.
In a groundbreaking animal study lab rats were fed a cocoa-rich diet (about 12 percent of what they ate) for eight weeks. They were then injected with a chemical that causes colon cancer and the results were extraordinary.
The cocoa cut the amount of cancer causing compound in the animal’s colons, slashing oxidative stress and reducing the formation of cancerous lesions, according to the study published in the journal Molecular Nutrition and Food Research.9
The key to making the cancer fighter work for you is to seek out a dark chocolate. The darker the better. Milk chocolates are highly processed and full of added sugar. Look for 85 percent cocoa content or higher to reap the most benefits.
It turns out regularly eating lentils—and similar high folate foods such as beans and peas—could slash your risk of colorectal cancer. Research shows this potent B vitamin can help protect cell DNA from the kind of oxidative damage that can lead to cancer.
In a large Harvard University study tracking 88,000 women with a family history of colon cancer it was discovered that the women who took in more than 400 mcg of folate a day had an incredible 52 percent less risk of developing colon cancer than the ladies who consumed just 200 mcg.10
One cup of lentils provides around 358 mcg of folate. Pinto beans, garbanzo beans, black beans, navy beans, kidney beans, spinach and sunflower seeds are also excellent sources of this important B vitamin. Stick to getting your folate from folate rich foods which come naturally paired with other balancing micronutrients rather than folic acid fortified foods.
Lentils and other legumes are also brimming with fiber including the insoluble fiber which may help reduce your risk for colorectal cancer. A single tablespoon of boiled lentils delivers a full gram of fiber.
1. Colorectal Cancer Facts & Figures 2014-2016, Colorectal Cancer Facts & Figures, American Cancer Society
2. Colorectal Cancer Facts & Figures 2011-2013, C Colorectal Cancer Facts & Figures, American Cancer Society
3. Colorectal Cancer Facts & Figures 2008-2010, Colorectal Cancer Facts & Figures, American Cancer Society
4 “Regular Consumption of Nuts Is Associated with a Lower Risk of Cardiovascular Disease in Women with Type 2 Diabetes,” J Nutr. 2009 Jul; 139(7): 1333–1338
5. “Possible Benefit of Nuts in Type 2 Diabetes,” J. Nutr. September 2008, vol. 138 no. 9 1752S-1756S
6. “Magnesium intake and colorectal tumor risk: a case-control study and meta-analysis,” Am J Clin Nutr, September 2012, vol. 96 no. 3 622-631
7. Nuts, almonds [Includes USDA commodity food A256, A264], 1 cup, whole, nutritiondata.self.com, Accessed 12/14/2016
8. “Ion channel TRPV1-dependent activation of PTP1B suppresses EGFR-associated intestinal tumorigenesis,” J Clin Invest. 2014;124(9):3793-3806
9. “Cocoa-rich diet prevents azoxymethane-induced colonic preneoplastic lesions in rats by restraining oxidative stress and cell proliferation and inducing apoptosis,” Mol Nutr Food Res. 2011 Dec;55(12):1895-9
10. “Multivitamin use, folate, and colon cancer in women in the Nurses’ Health Study,” Ann Intern Med. 1998 Oct 1;129(7):517-24
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