Vegan diets are on the rise for environmental and ethical reasons. For a meal to be considered vegan, it must have only plant-based foods. These exclude meat, eggs, fish, and dairy.
Vegan diets have many health benefits; some researchers suggest they can lower cancer risk. This article will examine if a vegan diet can help you prevent and treat colon cancer.
Can a Vegan Diet Reduce the Risk of Colon Cancer?
Colon cancer occurs when cancerous cells grow in the colon or rectum. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), these are the risk factors for colon cancer:
● Inflammatory bowel disease
● Low levels of exercise or physical activity
● Diets high in processed meats
● Diets high in fat and low in fiber
According to a 2022 review of 49 studies, plant-based diets can protect you against all digestive system cancers. This includes colon cancer. A 2015 study on a focus group found lower cases of colon cancer in 96,354 vegetarians after seven years.
However, these findings are considered low quality due to conflicts of interest. For instance, vegetarian diets differ from vegan diets. This is because they may include eggs and dairy.
Can a Vegan Diet Treat Colon Cancer?
Unfortunately, no evidence proves a vegan diet can treat colon cancer. However, studies propose that eating a vegan diet can reduce the risk of death in people. This could happen because of the increased fiber in well-planned vegan diets.
However, vegan diets can also have fewer calories than other diets. If you are living with cancer, you must eat enough calories and protein. You can also eat more legumes, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.
Other Tips for Preventing Colon Cancer
In addition to dietary changes, there are other lifestyle changes you can make to prevent colon cancer:
Reduce your alcohol intake.
According to a report by the American Cancer Society, alcohol use accounts for 6% of all cancers and 4% of all cancer deaths in the United States as of 2020.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends two drinks per day for men and one for women.
Smoking is a major risk factor when it comes to cancer development. If you currently smoke tobacco products, consider quitting completely. You can also join a smoking cessation program to help you cut back.
Staying physically healthy plays a role in reducing your risk of colon cancer. The American Institute for Cancer Research recommends at least 150 minutes or 2.5 hours of exercise weekly.
Many risk factors relate to the colon, some of which can be improved or changed. You can start by eating more plant-based food and consuming more fiber. Additionally, you can reduce your intake of red and processed meats.
However, you do not need to go fully vegan. You can simply add more plant-based foods to your regular eating pattern.