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Have you been diagnosed with colorectal cancer, or do you care about someone who has? Do you have a family history of colorectal cancer and worry that you might develop it as well? Colorectal cancer is the second leading cancer killer in the United States. It is found most commonly in people over the age of 50 and is the third most common cancer among both men and women. The National Cancer Institute estimates that there will be 108,000 new cases of colon and 40,000 rectal cancers diagnosed in the US this year. Find out what you can do to prevent this condition with some basic everyday foods and activities.

Walking

Walking 1 to 1.9 hours every week will lower your chances of developing colon cancer by 31 percent. This means that a daily 10-minute walk can have a big effect on your long-term health. If you exercise four hours every week at a moderate intensity, you lower your chances by 44 percent. This can be translated into 35 minutes daily on a bicycle or elliptical machine. The benefits of daily exercise also include weight loss along with cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure management. It can also help with insomnia, constipation, stress and depression. There are too many benefits to this intervention to pass it up!

Green tea

Green tea has become popular lately for its many health-promoting properties, but did you know it could prevent colon cancer too? Drinking the equivalent of four to six cups of green tea every day can cut your risk of colon cancer by half. People who do develop colon tumors while drinking lots of green tea have smaller tumors that are less likely to be malignant. Green tea can now be found in many different herbal combinations and flavors and contains very little caffeine compared to coffee or black tea. If four to six cups seems like too much, you could also consider supplementing with green-tea capsules.

Fruits and veggies

Dark fruits and vegetables are high in a flavonoid that can slow the growth of colon cancer cells. Purple corn, chokeberry and bilberry have the biggest impact, requiring the smallest amounts to slow the growth of colon cancer cells by 50 percent. Chokeberries and bilberries are often incorporated into jams and jellies and are an easy, sweet addition to your daily foods.

Other fruits that are high in this flavonoid include blueberries, cherries, hawthorne berries, blackberries and raspberries. Aside from their ability to slow the growth of colon cancer, they can also reduce your cardiovascular, neurodegenerative and diabetes risk. They also reduce inflammation and improve eyesight. This is the season for berries and other dark fruits and vegetables, so indulge!

Polyunsaturated fats

People who eat the most polyunsaturated fats have the lowest incidence of colorectal cancer. The strongest associations are found with intake of DHA and EPA, which are most highly concentrated in fish and fish oils. People with the highest DHA intake have 41 percent decreased risk and those with the highest EPA intake have 37 percent decreased risk. You can increase your intake of fish in your diet or you can supplement fish oil capsules. Be sure to check the supplement label for heavy metal purification and EPA/

DHA content.

You can see how easy it is to take steps toward preventing colorectal cancer development. If you have already been diagnosed, these interventions are still beneficial. However, be sure to consult with your oncologist about any supplements that you are taking during chemotherapy. Otherwise enjoy knowing that you are taking positive steps toward a colon-cancer-free future.

Dr. Christina Amicone is a resident physician in naturopathic medicine at Yellowstone Naturopathic Clinic and St. Vincent's Cancer Care. She can be reached at 259-5096. Send naturopathic health questions to info@yncnaturally.com.

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