House Call: A good time to start to eat right
This month is National Nutrition Month and Colorectal Cancer Month and I’ll discuss how they are intertwined.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, of all cancers that affect both men and women, colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States and the third most common cancer in men and in women. In 2010, there were 131,607 people in the United States diagnosed with colorectal cancer, and 52,045 people in the United States died from it.
Even as saddening as those statistics are, there is hope at the end of your fork. Healthy nutrition is absolutely essential in preventing colon cancer. When meats are cooked at a higher temperature, such as pan fried and grilling, there is a release of mutagenic compounds, the heterocyclic amines and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Besides colon cancer, these cooked meat carcinogens are also associated with an increased risk of kidney cancer, lung cancer and pancreatic cancer.
So what should you be eating? According to the American Cancer Society, “Overall, diets that are high in vegetables, fruits and whole grains (and low in red and processed meats) have been linked with lower colorectal cancer risk, although it’s not exactly clear which factors are important.”
You might be wondering if this is possible. Changing your entire diet to one that excludes any animal products can be daunting for anyone, but it can be done and it pays huge dividends in the end. There are some wonderful resources to help you, such as the Physicians Committee on Responsible Medicine and their 21-day Kick Start program. Go online to pcrm.org/kickstartHome.
If switching to a completely whole foods, plant-based diet is too much at this time, at least consider increasing your vegetable and fruit intake. Only 32.5 percent of Americans eat two or more servings of fruit per day, and only 26.3 percent consume three or more vegetable servings per day. The recommended amount of vegetables and fruits (combined) is 5-9 servings a day.
It doesn’t take much effort to eat oatmeal with berries in the morning, a large salad for lunch, some bell pepper and hummus for lunch and more vegetables served at dinner and, before you know it, you just decreased your risks for colon cancer!
Dr. Laurie Marbas is a family physician at Grand River Hospital and Medical Center in Rifle.
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