What should you eat to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer?

Each March 31st commemorates the World Colon Cancer Daya quote that seeks to disseminate the importance of preventing this tumor that has the sad “honor” of being the most frequent in our country, with annual figures that exceed 40,000 new diagnoses, according to data from the Cancer Observatory of the Spanish Association Against Cancer. Added to this high prevalence is that it is one of the most harmful, since it is the second in mortality, only surpassed by lung cancer.

In this scenario, food plays a fundamental role, since «It has been shown that what we eat has a lot to say in one in three tumors, a relationship that is even more decisive when we talk about colorectal cancer.because in this specific case the diet we follow not only does not protect us, but also increases the risk of triggering it,” he warns. Emilia Gomez Pardodoctor in Molecular Biology and health and nutrition advisor.

The explanation to understand the direct impact that diet has on the appearance of colorectal cancer lies in the fact that «As it is a tumor of the digestive tract, what we eat influences the processes that are involved in the progression of this cancer», explains Gómez Pardo, who emphasizes that «mostly it is due to the absence of fiber, from fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains and legumes. This fiber is necessary and very beneficial due to its character protectivesince it is capable of restoring the intestinal microbiota and has antioxidant capacity, just what we need against cancer.

In this sense, it is well known that the best shield for our health is a good diet and a healthy lifestyle. «But understanding that diet as an eating pattern, since there are no foods on their own that protect us from cancer and neither do they trigger it by themselves.“, remember Angela Martinspecialist in the Department of Endocrinology and Nutrition at the Clínica Universidad de Navarra.

What should you eat?

When looking for a pattern, both experts agree that the Mediterranean diet is the most favorable. «To do this you have to opt for a high consumption of fruits and vegetablesas well as the use of extra virgin olive oil», advises Martín. To this Gómez Pardo adds that “it is essential to take at least three servings of whole grains a day. With that alone we can reduce the risk of colon cancer by 17%. This means replacing all white and refined flours with whole grain flour, that is, in the supermarket we must choose whole grain pasta and rice, as well as bread made with whole grains.

But as important as what is added to the menu is what is avoided, since in colon cancer the risk factors provided by diet are “the consumption of processed meatwhich today we know is mutagenic, and the abuse of red meatwhich has been related to the risk of suffering from it,” says Gómez Pardo.

And when the cancer already appears, depending on the location and the treatment followed, «the greatest risk that cancer patients face is malnutrition, which negatively affects the progression of the diseaseso it is essential to include a nutritional approach to obtain better results,” warns Martín.