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Colorectal Cancer

Fight Colorectal Cancer with a Plant-Based Diet

Two of the simplest steps you can take to protect against colorectal cancer start on your plate: Eliminate red and processed meat—such as bacon, ham, and hot dogs—and fill up on fiber.

The World Health Organization has determined that processed meat is a major contributor to colorectal cancer, classifying it as “carcinogenic to humans.” Just one hot dog or a few strips of bacon consumed daily increases cancer risk by 18 percent. The World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) and the American Institute for Cancer Research (AIRC) have also found that “the evidence on processed meat and cancer is clear-cut.”

Colorectal cancer rates are on the rise in young people. Adults born around 1990 have twice the risk of colon cancer and four times the risk of rectal cancer compared with adults born around 1950, according to a study published by the National Cancer Institute. American Cancer Society guidelines now recommend that screening begin at age 45. The guidelines attribute rising rates to diets high in processed meat and low in fruits, vegetables, and other dietary fiber as risk factors. 

To reduce your risk, focus on fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes, which are high in fiber and other protective nutrients. Eating just three servings of whole grains per day can reduce colorectal cancer risk by 17 percent.

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Processed Meat Linked to Colorectal Cancer

The American Institute for Cancer Research finds that processed meat increases colorectal cancer risk, while whole grains lower risk.