10 Ways to Prevent Colon Cancer

10 Ways to Prevent Colon Cancer
Sue Mah

By: Sue Mah

Registered Dietitian,
in collaboration with Dairy Farmers of Canada

Colon cancer affects both women and men, especially after the age 50. It's the third most common cancer in Canada . According to the Canadian Cancer Society, about half of all cancers can be prevented through healthy living choices. Although we can't change age, gender or family history, we can make healthy food choices, exercise regularly, and stop smoking.


  1. Here's what you can do to lower your risk of colon cancer: Limit the amount of red meat to a maximum of 500 grams (one pound) per week. Try to eat very little processed meat such as meat that has been cured or smoked.

  2. Choose foods that are lower in fat and calories. Read food labels to make healthy choices.

  3. Add more fibre-rich foods to your plate. Make meals and snacks with vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds.

  4. Drink milk every day. Studies show that milk may have a protective role in colon cancer. This finding appears in a major report by the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research on how diet and lifestyle can prevent cancer. Researchers mainly credit the calcium and vitamin D in milk for this beneficial effect. A daily calcium intake of 1,200 to 1,500 mg seems to offer the maximum protection - that's the equivalent of three to four servings of milk and alternatives every day.

  5. Eat garlic! The exact amount is still unknown, but raw or cooked garlic, as well as garlic powder, may have a protective effect. Supplements aren't recommended .

  6. Limit alcohol consumption. Alcohol increases the risk of colon cancer in both men and women. Canada's Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines recommend no more than three drinks a day for men, and no more than two drinks day for women.

  7. Be active! Set aside at least 150 minutes a week for moderate to vigorous exercises that you enjoy.

  8. Aim to reach and maintain a healthy weight. An apple-shaped body with excess weight around the waist increases your chances of colon cancer.

  9. Be smoke-free. Quitting smoking lowers your risk of colon cancer, other types of cancer and heart disease.

  10. Talk to your doctor about screening. Colon cancer screening is usually part of a routine medical check-up starting at the age of 50. If you have a higher risk for colon cancer, you may need to be screened earlier.

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