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Diet, exercise and aspirin: 3 tools to fight colon cancer

This article is Sponsored by Dignity Health

Colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death and the third most common form of cancer among men and women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to an article about American Cancer Society guidelines, behaviors such as avoiding exposure to tobacco products, maintaining a healthy weight, staying physically active throughout life and consuming a healthy diet can substantially reduce one’s lifetime risk of developing, or dying from colorectal cancer and other types of cancer.

Past and ongoing research is providing information about preventative measures people can take to decrease the chance of developing colorectal cancer.

Here are some of the keys medical experts and scientists have identified.


“We do know that a high-fiber diet helps reduce the risk of colon cancer down the line,” says Dr. Mital Patel, gastrointestinal medical oncologist at The University of Arizona Cancer Center at Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center. “There are studies being done now looking at the complexity of the carbohydrates in the diet — something which we call the glycemic index — and whether modulating that can affect the risk of colon cancer.”

The CDC reports that while medical experts continue researching the role of diet in preventing colorectal cancer, they still recommend a diet low in animal fats and high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to reduce the risk of other chronic diseases, such as coronary artery disease and diabetes. A side benefit to this diet could be a reduced risk of colorectal cancer.

Diet has also been shown to be an important element in the recovery and health of cancer survivors.


Adults should engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity each week, recommends the American Cancer Society. The society specifically lists colorectal cancer as an example of cancers where regular exercise has been shown to reduce risk.

There may be additional benefits for people who do more than the suggested amount of exercise. The article cites studies where participants showed significant health benefits from 300 minutes or more each week of moderate exercise levels.


Aspirin has long been used to alleviate the risk of some types of heart disease. Recent research also shows aspirin can effectively lower the risk of colon cancer as well. According to information from the National Cancer Institute, a study in the United Kingdom found men and women who took aspirin daily showed a nearly 60 percent decrease in colorectal cancer incidence.

It is important to note some individuals experience side effects from taking aspirin. American Cancer Society researcher Eric J. Jacobs said, “People who are wondering if they should take aspirin should talk to their own health care provider, who knows their individual medical history and is aware of other medications they may be using and can take this into account when weighing the overall risks and benefits of aspirin use for them.”

For anyone concerned about the risk of colon cancer, an online risk assessment tool can help assess your current colon health status and identify medical or lifestyle conditions that may lead to the development of colon cancer.

In addition, Dr. Patel notes the U.S. Preventative Task Force guidelines recommends that adults aged 50 to 75 years get screened for colorectal cancer to detect premalignant polyps or colon cancers at an early stage. The key recommendation is not regarding the kind of test which should be used but rather getting any of the recommended tests done in a timely fashion. Screenings and additional information about colorectal cancer prevention and treatment are available at The University of Arizona Cancer Center at Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center. 


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