Individuals who consume a diet that is rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and healthy oils, contains sufficient dietary calcium and vitamin D, and is low in solid fats, added sugar, and red meats have a significantly reduced risk of developing colorectal cancer. These results were recently published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

Evidence continues to mount indicating that a patient’s lifestyle habits, including diet, may significantly decrease the risk of certain types of disease, including certain types of cancers. Specifically, increased consumption of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains with a reduction in red or grilled meats appears to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. Because colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States, research has continued to focus on lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise that may prevent or significantly reduce its occurrence.

Researchers affiliated with the National Cancer Institute recently conducted a clinical study to further evaluate the potential associations between diet and rates of colorectal cancer among individuals involved in the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study. The study included approximately 500,000 individuals who completed questionnaires regarding their dietary habits.

Overall, individuals, and men in particular, who ate more fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and whole grains while minimizing consumption of red meat, added sugars, and oils had a significantly reduced risk of developing colorectal cancer.

The researchers concluded that “dietary patterns that are consistent with given dietary guidelines are associated with reduced risk” of colorectal cancer.These results provide further data indicating that diets focused on consumption of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains may reduce disease.

Reference: Reedy J, Mitrou P, Krebs-Smith S, et al. Index-based dietary patterns and risk of colorectal cancer. American Journal of Epidemiology. 2008; 168:38-48.

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