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Colon Cancer Prevention: What Can You Do To Lower Your Risk?

Medically reviewed by Mae Charisse Antalan, MD · General Practitioner

Written by Hello Doctor Medical Panel · Updated Mar 18, 2023

    Colon Cancer Prevention: What Can You Do To Lower Your Risk?

    What should I do for colon cancer prevention? In preventing colon cancer, minimizing risk factors is just as crucial as enhancing protective measures. Age, family history of colon cancer, personal history, inherited risk, alcohol, cigarette smoking, race, and obesity are risk factors that raise the likelihood of developing colon cancer.

    The risk of colon cancer is lowered by the following preventive factors: Exercise, use of aspirin, hormone replacement therapy in combination, and polyp removal.

    To avoid colon cancer, see a doctor and have routine examinations performed on you and your family members. In addition to screening, certain lifestyle changes may help.

    Colon Cancer Prevention Tips: Lifestyle

    1. Eat more plant-based foods

    Several plant foods, including berries, plums, pomegranates, cruciferous vegetables, tomatoes, garlic, turmeric, ginger, soy, whole grains, and mushrooms, have the potential to prevent and manage colon cancer, according to studies. Dietary natural products have been extensively investigated for colon cancer prevention and management.

    This review summarizes the potential prevention and management capabilities of plant foods and their bioactive components on colon cancer according to epidemiological, experimental, and clinical studies, as well as specific case studies. These plant foods typically contain fibers and phytochemicals that can slow the development and progression of colon cancer in a variety of ways, including protecting against colon carcinogens, inhibiting tumor growth and metastasis, inducing apoptosis, and cell cycle arrest.

    A diet high in fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains has been shown to reduce the risk of getting colon cancer and other cancers.


    According to a 2017 study, our diet has an impact on our risk of colon cancer: Eating fiber-rich foods like fruits and vegetables lowers risk, while consuming red and processed meat raises risk.

    According to another 2015 study, a plant-based diet lowers the risk of colon cancer by 49% when compared to the usual American diet, which contains a lot of meat.

    A plant-based diet also “provides significant benefits against a number of malignancies while posing essentially minimal potential of undesired side effects,” according to the findings of another 2015 study.

    2. Less red meat and processed meats

    It is advised that people who consume more than 90g (cooked weight) of red and processed meat per day reduce their intake to 70g or less. Red meat, such as beef, lamb, and pork, is a good source of protein, vitamins, and minerals and can be included in a balanced diet. However, eating a lot of red and processed meat increases your risk of bowel (colorectal) cancer.


    According to a 2005 European study that tracked 478,000 men and women, those who consumed the most red meat—5 ounces or more daily—had a higher risk of colon cancer than those who consumed the least—less than 1 ounce.

    According to a 2005 American study, eating a lot of processed and red meat significantly raised the chance of developing colon cancer.

    A meta-analysis from 2015 showed that consuming red and processed meat “convincingly increases the risk of colon cancer by 20% to 30%.” Study participants who consumed the most processed meat had “substantially elevated risks” (20% for colorectal cancer), according to a 2007 study.

    3. Reduce Alcohol Consumption

    The National Toxicology Program of the US Department of Health and Human Services lists consumption of alcoholic beverages as a known human carcinogen. Moderate to heavy alcohol consumption is linked to 1.2- to 1.5-fold increased risks of cancers of the colon and rectum compared with no alcohol consumption; and there is a strong body of scientific evidence supporting this conclusion.


    A 2021 research study showed that heavy drinking in adolescence raises the risk of colorectal cancer. According to another  2018 study on alcohol use and colorectal cancer, alcohol is one of the main risk factors for the disease.

    The World Health Organization’s latest study, published in 2021, verified the connection between drinking alcohol and an increased risk of colon cancer.

    4. Stop Smoking

    One of the best habits to adopt when it comes to colon cancer prevention is to quit smoking. Smokers have a 50% higher risk of developing the disease than people who have never smoked.


    A link between cigarette smoking and the incidence of colon cancer was discovered after a 12-year study of more than 180,000 individuals. The study found that current, lifelong smokers were most at risk. For previous smokers who gave up before the age of 40 or who had abstained for longer than 31 years, the risk dropped.

    Research from The American Cancer Society came to the conclusion that long-term cigarette smoking increases the risk of colon cancer death in both men and women. Additionally, this study discovered that early smoking cessation decreased risk.

    5. Maintain a healthy weight and engage in daily exercise

    Exercise increases antioxidant levels and DNA repair. It can also affect growth factor production and insulin metabolism in ways that reduce inflammation and increase immune function. According to the National Cancer Institute, most physically active adults can reduce their risk of colon cancer by as much as 24%.

    “We found that losing weight from early to late adulthood — at least 1 pound every 5 years — was associated with a 46% reduced risk of developing colorectal adenoma. Our study findings particularly support a benefit of weight loss for adults who are overweight or obese.”


    According to a 2016 study, obesity’s side effects, such as increased visceral belly fat and insulin resistance, raise the risk of colon cancer.

    According to a 2019 study, exercise may not only prevent about 15% of colon cancer cases but also lessen the chance of death and recurrence both before and after diagnosis.

    People may cut their risk of colon cancer by 24% through regular physical activity, according to a 2009 meta-analysis study.

    Another finding from a 2017 study shared that a sedentary lifestyle, particularly prolonged TV viewing, job-related sitting time, and overall sitting time, were linked to a rise in colorectal cancer in adults.

    Learn more about Colorectal Cancer here


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Mae Charisse Antalan, MD

    General Practitioner

    Written by Hello Doctor Medical Panel · Updated Mar 18, 2023

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