Cancer of the large intestine or bowels, i.e. bowel cancer is one of the commonest cancers seen in India. The actual cause  is unknown, but there are numerous risk factors that we know. A strong genetic history and age are unavoidable factors, but factors like lifestyle, obesity, drinking, smoking can be controlled to prevent bowel cancer.

For quite some time, researchers have been exploring the link between colon cancer and diet to understand what foods should be eaten or avoided to protect oneself from this disabling condition. Scientists estimate that following a proper diet can reduce the risk of colon cancer by more than half.

What are the symptoms of colon cancer?

Some symptoms of colon cancer are commonly seen because of non cancer illnesses such as bowel infections or piles too. In most cases, these symptoms do not mean that it is colon cancer. However, if the following complains persist, they should be investigated immediately.

  • Change in bowel habits like diarrhoea or constipation
  • Bleeding from anus
  • There is blood present in the stool (most often the stools are normal looking and need to be tested )
  • Persistent or recurring severe pain in the belly
  • Continuing fatigue and weakness
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Loss of appetite

What foods should one eat to avoid colon cancer?

  • Skip the meat:1meat

Any processed red meat contains a lot of saturated fats. Curated meat contains heme, a protein, that may lead to genetic changes in the colon cells when cooked and should be avoided as much as possible. Even intake of sausages, steak,bacon should be limited while you can easily add fish to your daily meals.

  • Limit the frying:5fried

In general avoid food containing high fat content. Use healthier options like steaming, boiling or grilling.

  • Cut down on alcohol :2alcohol

Alcohol in large amounts (taking small amount is permitted) damages the digestive tract and liver cells and raises the chances of colon cancer. It also piles up on the unwanted calories and increases the risk of liver cirrhosis in the long run.

  • Avoid barbecued foods:3barbeque

The process of burning or charring the food produces carcinogenic (cancer producing) substances, consuming which can result in colon cancer. Avoid the blackened areas of meat. Use a tin foil and waxed paper instead of a plastic wrap when using a barbecue.

  • Fill up on that fibre and fruit:4fruits

Fibre increases the roughage in your diet that helps in improving bowel motility and promotes healthy weight gain. Eating fibre rich food like nuts, brown rice, seeds, beans, potatoes, pears, carrots, apples,oats, black beans help in improving the fibre content in your diet. This reduces stagnation of food in the bowels and reduces chances of colon cancer.

Stock up on these foods to prevent colon cancer orbowel cancer, eat healthy and stay healthy!

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Consultant Physician and Diabetologist, MBBS, PDDM, MHA, 5+ years experience

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