Colorectal cancer tends to run in families, but in many people, there is no known cause. Still, there are ways to reduce the risk. Research has suggested that aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) may help prevent colorectal cancer, as will a healthy diet with plenty of fiber, not smoking, and getting exercise.
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Diet and Exercise for Colorectal Cancer Prevention
Experts recommend that as an initial step towards prevention of colorectal cancer, people should exercise and eat right. The American Cancer Society recommends 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of high-intensity exercise (or a combination of these) throughout each week.
The National Cancer Institute recommends a low-fat, high-fiber diet that includes at least 2 1/2 cups of fruits and vegetables each day. To reduce fat in your diet, change your eating and cooking habits. Major sources of fat are meat, eggs, dairy products, and oils used in cooking and salad dressings. To increase the amount of fiber in your diet, eat more vegetables, fruits, and whole-grain breads and cereals.
In addition, some studies suggest that daily folic acid supplementation can lower colorectal cancer risk. Other studies suggest that increasing calcium and vitamin D intake will lower the risk. Talk to your doctor before changing your diet or taking any supplements.
Aspirin for Colorectal Cancer Prevention
It has been proposed that aspirin may stop colorectal cancer cells from multiplying. In addition, other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs, such as Aleve and Motrin) may reduce the size of polyps in the colon, and therefore, the risk of colon cancer. This theory has not been well established and the proper dosage needed to create this potentially risk-reducing effect is not yet known. In addition, not everyone can tolerate aspirin or other NSAIDs due to gastrointestinal problems, an increased risk of bleeding, medication interactions, or other medical problems. NSAID use has also been shown to increase risk of heart attack and stroke. If you are at high risk of developing colon cancer, you should not start taking aspirin or other NSAIDs until you discuss it with your doctor.