Junk food can seem like an insurmountable hurdle of temptation to get over sometimes. With things like juicy steaks, soft white bread, and sugary sodas on the table, it can be hard to reach for fruits and vegetables at times. Before you happily grab your favorite junk food while glaring at vegetables with absolute disdain, consider this. Consuming unhealthy food often might increase your chance of colon cancer, according to a recent study.
Colon cancer is more common than most people think. It affects about 1 in 22 men and 1 in 24 women. Although the risk is slightly lower in women than in men, women should still be aware of the risk of colon cancer as The American Cancer Society estimates there are already 97,220 new cases of colon cancer in 2018. Picture this, there have already been 50,630 deaths in 2018 so far! Before you crawl into ball of hopelessness, remember cancer prevention is the first step. Avoiding dangerous foods that will lead you to directly to the path of colon cancer is the most important step!
Keep reading to check out which foods increase your risk of colon cancer and the foods that fight it!
I’m a major movie buff, so when I found out my beloved popcorn is filled with cancer-causing chemicals, I can’t deny I was one sad puppy! It’s not the popcorn that is harmful to your health, in fact, popcorn can actually be healthy. Popcorn is a whole-grain food that is high in fiber and antioxidants. It’s the addictive buttery spread that covers the popcorn and the chemicals used in the lining of the bag that are the cancer causing culprits. A chemical called perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) is used in the lining of microwave popcorn bags, which is the same chemical used to make Teflon and pizza boxes. The problem lies in the fact that the acid seeps from the bag into the popcorn each time you pop a bag into the microwave. Yikes!
For all my fellow movie lovers, fear not, there are healthy substitutes for microwave popcorn that are just as tasty without the guilt of the grease staining “butter” mix. Try making homemade popcorn on the stove top. Not only will you be able to control the ingredients you add, it also serves as a fun bonding activity for you and whoever you might be watching a movie with. Check out this delicious popcorn recipe that is made with coconut oil, which is a big-time cancer-fighting ingredient!
Grilled red meat
Most people know the dangers of red meat and how it can be harder for your body to digest than other foods. However, did you know the simple act of grilling your red meat can increase your risk for colon cancer even more? When red meat is grilled at a high temperature, chemicals called Heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are released. When observed during lab experiments, HCAs and PAHs have been found to cause changes in DNA that may increase your risk of cancer. The smoke produced while grilling foods is also a cancer-causing factor as research indicated that smoke creates a series of mutagenic and carcinogenic heterocyclic amines (HCAs).
Over the span of 10 years, epidemiological studies have observed the correlation between well-done meat intake and meat carcinogen exposure with cancer risk. This study found that people who ate the most inflammatory foods, such as red meat, were 37% more likely to develop colon cancer and 70% more likely to develop rectal cancer. Keep in mind, cooking red meat in other ways won’t eliminate your risk of colon cancer. Eating red meat prepared in any cooking fashion has still been linked to an increased risk of cancer.
Soda is something that you should eliminate from your diet entirely. There’s no denying that soda can be refreshing on a hot day but it offers zero health benefits! It also causes pre-aging, diabetes, and weight gain.
What makes soda a prime cancer-causing product is the amount of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and other refined sugars that lurk in it. Refined sugars can cause big insulin spikes and actually feed the growth of cancer cells. Consuming sodas will not only increase your risk of cancer but will also give you a higher risk of mortality.
Farmed salmon is dangerous because more than 60% of the salmon eaten in the United States is farm-raised using antibiotics, pesticides, and other carcinogenic chemicals. Farm raised salmon is laden with chemicals because farmers attempt to control high amounts of bacterial, viral, and parasitic outbreaks that occur often since farmed fish are kept in extremely close quarters with other fish by using pesticides.
Not only does farmed salmon not have as much omega-3 as wild salmon, it’s also associated with contaminants like PCBs, toxaphene, and dieldrin. If salmon is your favorite, be sure that you’re buying wild caught salmon. Your body will thank you!
Now that you know what foods to avoid if you want to keep your cancer-free bill of health intact, take a look at the foods that can actually decrease your risk of colon cancer.
High fiber foods
I discovered the wonders of eating a high fiber diet when I became a vegetarian. Not only does eating more fiber help make your trips to the restroom a lot quicker but eating fiber can also combat colon cancer. Eating fiber can create a protective effect for your digestive system because fiber adds bulk to your digestive system, which can cut the amount of time that wastes travel through your colon.
When increasing your intake of fiber, try different fiber-rich grains, beans, vegetables, and fruits. Fruits and vegetables are superfoods that are full of high levels of anti-cancer elements, including fiber, folate, other B vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Eating fiber doesn’t have to be boring. There are plenty of fruits and vegetables that have fiber and aggressively fight cancer, such as apples, bananas, oranges, black beans, broccoli and artichokes.
Incorporating higher amounts of milk into your diet goes hand in hand with a decreased risk of developing colorectal cancer compared to lower intakes of milk. Milk and other dairy products may potentially help you avoid the dangers of colon cancer because of their high calcium content.
Calcium is believed to ignite biological mechanisms, including reduced cellular proliferation and promotion of cellular differentiation, which can help you avoid developing colon cancer. Chugging milk can create many anticancer activities within your body like anti-proliferation, induction of differentiation and apoptosis, anti-inflammation, inhibition of invasion and metastasis, and suppression of angiogenesis.
Coffee is what keeps many people going throughout the day, which means it’s excellent news that drinking coffee can reduce your chance of colon cancer. Since your average cup of coffee contains many potentially bioactive components that are relevant to colon physiology, such as polyphenols, melanoidins, diterpenes, and caffeine, it can reduce inflammation.
Drinking coffee can promote colon health due to anti-mutagenic or antioxidant properties, reduction of bile acid secretion, modification of microbiome composition, and/or enhancement of critical bowel functions.
If you’re in the early stages of colon cancer, coffee can still be beneficial for body according to research that shows drinking coffee can help lower your chances of tumor recurrence and death from the disease.
What are your favorite colon cancer-fighting foods? Leave your comments below!
— Laura Jazmin Tolliver