Three Colorectal Cancer Fighting Foods

Colorectal Cancer Illustration

​One out of every twenty one men and one out of every twenty three women will get colorectal cancer at some point in their lives. In 2012, nearly 1.4 million cases of colorectal cancer were recorded globally. Over 130,000 persons are expected to be diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2017, and more than 50,000 men and women will die from the disease this year. Lung and liver cancers are the only types of cancer that kills more people in the United States than colorectal cancer.

Preventability estimates using the findings from the World Cancer Research Fund International Continuous Update Project show that about 45 per cent of cases of colorectal cancer in the UK can be prevented by maintaining a healthy body weight, exercising regularly, and eating healthy foods. Certain foods contain compounds that inhibit the development and growth of cancerous cells and tumors in the colon and rectum. Here are just three of the many foods linked to lower risks of colorectal cancer:

Celery is packed with lots of cancer-fighting compounds, including phthalides, phenolic acids, acetylenics, apigenin, and luteolin. Several studies have shown that these compounds not only prevent the mutation of normal cells to cancerous ones but also kill cancerous cells and tumors. The apigenin component of celery has also been shown to kill cancer cells via apoptosis. A study published in Biomed Central Gastroenterology journal showed that luteolin is able to inhibit the growth cancerous cells, especially tumors in the colon, by blocking the signal pathways (IGF and PI3K) necessary for the growth of cancer cells.

Eating these bright pigmented vegetables releases betacyanins. These are phytochemicals that are highly effective at fighting cancer, particularly colon cancer. Beets are also excellent sources of both soluble and insoluble fiber. The insoluble fiber found in beets softens stool, increases bulk, and shortens the transit time of fecal matter, thereby limiting the exposure of the bowel to potential carcinogens. The friendly bacteria residing in the large intestine ferment the soluble fiber found in beets and release short-chain fatty acids called butyric acids that help to maintain a healthy gut and prevent the development of cancerous cells in the colon and rectum.

Not only does the fiber found in barley helps to improve cholesterol numbers and reduce the risk of heart disease, it is also beneficial in the prevention of colorectal cancer. Hulled barley groats have more cancer-fighting fiber than does the more commonly found pearled barley. The findings of a study conducted by a team of researchers from Newcastle University, UK, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland revealed that adequate selenium intake is associated with a lower colorectal cancer risk. With selenium found in whole grains like hulled barley, a serving per day of barley groats may help diminish the likelihood of developing colorectal cancer.

Eat More Colorectal Cancer-Fighting Foods

Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer deaths in the world. Dietary and lifestyle choices play an important role in the development and prevention of colorectal cancer. Eating more of barley, beets, and celery can help cut down colorectal cancer risk significantly. These cancer-fighting foods should be part of every healthy diet.

Additional Information:

(1) American Cancer Society: Key Colorectal Cancer Statistics

(2) World Cancer Research Fund International: Colorectal Cancer Statistics

(3) Eat Fruits and Vegetables to Cut Colorectal Cancer Risk

(4) Colorectal Cancer Rising in Young Adults

(5) Processed Meat Increases Colorectal Cancer Risk

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