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Colorectal Cancer Diet, Nutrition

One of the first steps in cancer prevention and in reducing the risk of certain types of cancer is to undertake changes in your diet and lifestyle. In the case of colorectal cancer, diet guidelines may lower your risk of developing colon polyps or even other types of gastrointestinal cancer such as stomach, kidney, liver or pancreatic cancer, bile duct cancer, and in the case of women ovarian or uterus cancer. In fact, researchers suggest that diet plan for colorectal cancer patients must include a healthy diet with greater emphasis on nutrients from plant sources. Foods for colorectal cancer patients must include fruits and vegetables, dietary fiber from grains and healthy sources of proteins and fats such as lean meat, poultry, dairy and seafood. Medical experts recommend consuming at least five helpings of fresh fruits and vegetables per day.
Doctors also encourage receiving the recommended dietary fiber from whole grain products rather than refined flour products. Diet restriction for colorectal cancer patients include consumption of red meat, processed foods, refined flour products, and excess amounts of saturated or trans fats.

Foods to Avoid Colorectal Cancer

With diet and nutrition closely linked to the increased risk of colorectal cancer, it is important to focus on foods to avoid with colorectal cancer. Ongoing research shows that a low fat, high fiber diet helps to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. At the same time, certain foods such as red meat and refined or processed foods may increase the chances of colorectal cancer. Other foods to avoid with colorectal cancer include alcohol and caffeine. Alcohol interferers with your metabolic activity and may resist the absorption of essential vitamins, minerals, and folates. Excess amounts of tea, coffee, or caffeinated beverages may also interfere with your colon health, contributing to growth of colon polyps or cancer. Doctors and nutritionists suggest consuming dietary fiber from whole grain for overall health benefits. In addition to this, focus on getting plenty of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants from fresh fruits and vegetables.


A lack of vitamins A, C, D, and K has often been linked to increased risk of colorectal cancer. The anti-cancer properties of vitamins for colorectal cancer make it an essential part of the diet. While multivitamin tablets or vitamin supplements can help bridge the dietary gap, it is best to receive these essential micronutrients from natural sources such as fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, diary and seafood. Vitamin A or beta-carotene boosts the immune system and fights cancer cells. Vitamin A may further help to block the growth of potentially harmful cancer cells and tumor growths. Best sources of beta-carotene include orange colored foods such as mango, papaya, cantaloupes, pumpkins, squashes, sweet potato, yams and carrots. Other sources include spinach, tomatoes and grapefruit. Vitamin C in citrus fruits and vegetables helps combat carcinogens in the body and boosts the immune system. Vitamin C act as powerful antioxidants to reduce the damage caused by free radicals and promotes gut health through the production of lymphocytes, which fight cancer cells. Increase in vitamin D often coincides with reduced risk of cancer in both men and women. Vitamin D is available through natural sources such as exposure to sunshine and fortified sources such as milk enhanced with vitamin D. Vitamin D possess anti-cancer properties and reduces the growth of cancer spreading cells. Vitamin K intake through the consumption of green leafy vegetables such as spinach, Swiss chard, kale, and other vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, green beans, and carrots may reduce the risk of colon, liver, and prostrate cancers.

Nutrition For Colorectal Cancer

Nutrition for colorectal cancer patients must come from plant sources in the form of essential micronutrients such as vitamins, minerals, folates, antioxidants, and so on. Nutrition therapy for colorectal cancer may include natural sources such as fruits and vegetables. However, in some recovering patients, doctors may also recommend the intake of nutrition supplements. Colorectal cancer patients may need extra doses of vitamin A or beta carotene to boost the immune system and fight cancer cells, vitamin C to fight cell damage and promote the growth of healthy cells, vitamin D to reduce the spread of cancer cells and tumor growth, and vitamin E to synthesize other essential vitamins. Further, minerals such as calcium reduce the inflammation in the colon. Inflammation caused by acid and bile reaction in the colon may turn into lesions and polyps, indicating the risk of cancer in the future. Sources of calcium include low fat dairy products, seafood and soy products. Selenium is another powerful antioxidant, which seeks and eliminates cancer inducing foreign bodies. Best sources of selenium include shellfish, whole grains, vegetables, and condiments such as garlic, sunflower seeds, flax seeds and white meat. Lean protein from eggs, white meat, and soy products may provide necessary doses of phosphorus, which is useful in preventing pre-cancer colorectal polyps.


Taking supplements for colorectal cancer may seem like a good idea for the following group of people: for individuals suffering from colorectal cancer, for patients recovering from the disease, and for individuals who are genetically at a high risk of suffering from colorectal cancer or have other family members afflicted with the problem. We have already seen how vitamins A, C, D and K along with minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, and selenium may help decrease the risk of colorectal cancer. In addition, many experts recommend the use of folic acid to decrease the risk of colon and cervical cancer. Increasing your vitamin intake through supplements and multivitamin tablets may help individuals fight the risk of colorectal cancer. However, it is best to consult your doctor regarding dosages, etc.


Certain natural herbs for colorectal cancer may also be included in your daily diet. These consist of fresh or dried natural herbs such as ginger and garlic, green tea, and other fruit or floral herb teas, flax seed, sunflower seed, and so on. Chemical compounds or antioxidants in natural herbs may help boost the immune system and fight the early signs of cancer. Chinese herbs for colorectal cancer include roots of such as ginseng, flowers such as violets and peonies, and even barks and leaves of trees. Chinese traditional medicine using herbs may help patients with colorectal cancer to redevelop their immune system and fight against the growth of cancer or tumor cells. Herbs for colorectal cancer treatment may also include European mistletoe, celery seeds, and plant sources containing folic acid.


  • Sudden and rapid weight loss, despite no evidence of health concerns.
  • Sudden change in bowel habits such as unexplained diarrhea or constipation.
  • Constant gastric complaints such as bloating, gas, cramps, or abdominal discomfort.
  • Frequent trips to the restroom with inconsistent bowel movement or stool consistency.  
  • Unexplained weakness, fatigue, and pain in the lower abdominal region.
  • Blood in the stools.


While research continues to identify the exact causes of colorectal cancer, we know that an alteration in the cell formation and exaggerated cell growth in the colon and rectum may lead to precancerous growth or polyps. Over a period of several years, some of these polyps may turn malignant. This is just one of several other colorectal cancer causes.

  • Individuals may suffer from a higher risk of colorectal cancer due to a family history of the disease.
  • Studies show that a lack of vitamins and minerals in your diet may lead to the growth of polyps, which can eventually turn to colorectal cancer.
  • Lifestyle habits such as alcohol, smoking, substance abuse, and lack of physical activity may also aggravate your chances of suffering from colorectal cancer.
  • Obesity related issues might also trigger causes that eventually lead to colorectal cancer.


Colorectal cancer treatment may depend on the aggressive nature of the cancer and the stage of cancer the individual may suffer from. Some treatment options include:

  • If a routine colonoscopy identifies your cancer in a small, local polyp your doctor maybe able to surgically remove it. This is possible in the first stage of colorectal cancer and maybe minimally invasive. For larger polyps, laparoscopy maybe used.
  • Surgical removal of part of the colon or rectum may be advised if the cancer has spread to these areas. In such cases, your doctor may recommend an invasive surgery and removal of the part. In some cases, a procedure called colostomy maybe required to temporarily or permanently fashion a bag out of the remaining bowel to dump the waste material.
  • Chemotherapy and radiation therapy may be used individually or in tandem to deal with advanced stages of colorectal cancer. These procedures may be used to treat colorectal cancer or prevent further risk of cancerous growth.


Doctors advise a number of routine checks and targeted screenings to identify colorectal cancer in its early stages. Treatment and prevention of these signs and symptoms is part of any colorectal cancer prevention routine. Other methods of prevention include:

  • Mandatory colon screenings such as colonoscopy when you reach 50 years
  • Eating at least five servings of fresh fruits and vegetables per day
  • Reduced consumption of processed foods and increased intake of whole grains.
  • Reduced consumption of fatty foods and red meat, substituting it with poultry, dairy, seafood and soy products
  • Avoiding smoking and excessive drinking and limiting caffeine
  • Maintaining a level of moderate physical activity


Early colorectal cancer diagnosis can help start immediate treatment and recovery process. Some of the tests your doctor may recommend if you show signs of colorectal cancer include:

  • Blood tests to indicate the health and function of your organs.
  • A colonoscopy. If the doctor notices any polyps or suspicious growths, he/she can also use the tool to take biopsies or a sample of the affected area for further investigation.
  • A barium enema (X-ray with use of dyes to create a contrast) to clearly view the inside of your colon.
  • For individuals who are unable to proceed with colonoscopy due to certain reasons, multiple CT scans to view the inner lining of the colon are used.
Submitted on January 16, 2014