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Colorectal Cancer Health Center

Produce May Protect Against Colon Cancer

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"Many of these vegetable are also high in folate, another nutrient that may protect from colon cancer, [so] an easy tip is therefore to eat more vegetables, especially dark green vegetables or broccoli," she says, noting that oranges are also a good source of lutein.

Felicia Busch, RD, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association and a nutritionist in St. Paul, Minn., agrees.

Noting that lutein is a "powerfully potent food," Busch tells WebMD that "the take-home message is to eat more fruits and vegetables."

The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables every day.

"Lutein most certainly has a role in the prevention of colon cancer," says Jessica Krane, RD, a nutritionist in private practice in New York.

"To make sure you are getting enough lutein in your diet, always keep cut-up vegetables in the refrigerator and add them to everything from omelets to salsa," she says in a telephone interview with WebMD.

"Fiber-rich foods such as whole grains and oat bran also play a role in the prevention of colon cancer because they help move waste products through the system and out of the colon," she adds. "So don't forget to fill up on fiber, too."

A diet made up mostly of high-fat foods, especially from animal sources, can also increase the risk of colon cancer and should be avoided, she says.

"These strategies, along with regular physical activity, are also ideal for weight management and can help prevent other diseases as well including heart disease and diabetes," Krane says.

The ACS estimates that there will be about 94,700 new cases of colon cancer this year and 47,900 people will die from the cancer.

Vital Information:

  • A new study shows that lutein, which is found in spinach, broccoli, lettuce, tomatoes, oranges, and other fruits and vegetables, may protect against colon cancer.
  • Lutein is a type of carotenoid that acts as an antioxidant, destroying free radicals, to prevent cancer.
  • Other ways to lower your risk of colon cancer are to include folate, which is also found in vegetables, in your diet; eat fiber-rich foods; and avoid fats.
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