Lucky 13?

Nichole Andrews, a Washington-based oncology dietitian and author, is sharing 13 things to do to reduce your risk of colon cancer.

As The Post has reported, an increase in colorectal cancer diagnoses in 20- and 30-somethings is alarming health experts.

“As a cancer dietitian, I want to educate you on the things that do increase colon cancer risk and then things you can do to lower your colon cancer risk,” Andrews said in an eight-minute TikTok this week that’s drawn more than 18,000 views.

She advises quitting drinking, cutting out processed meats, adopting a high-fiber diet, moving more, exercising regularly, limiting red meats, eating whole grains, emphasizing plant foods, stopping smoking, undergoing regular screenings, reducing fat tissue, consuming more dairy and focusing on gut health.

1. Quit drinking

Andrews’s primary suggestion is to slash the sauce. “The first thing you want to do is remove alcohol. Alcohol is going to increase risk of colon cancer,” she said.

Alcohol raises the cancer risk because rather than digesting it, your body breaks it down into a chemical called acetaldehyde, which damages DNA and prevents the body from repairing itself. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that all alcoholic drinks, including red and white wine, beer and liquor, have been linked to cancer. The more you drink, the higher your cancer risk.

2. Cut out processed meats

No. 2 on the chopping block, or deli slicer, are processed meats.

Andrews explains, “Any consumption of processed meats increases risk of colorectal cancer, especially those red, processed meats, like sausages, things that are considered red meat, like beef, pork or lamb, pepperonis on pizza, daily meats for your sandwiches.”

She added: “Removing processed meats from your lifestyle, which also includes hot dogs, is definitely going to help you reduce your risk of cancer.”

Other experts agree. In 2015, the World Health Organization named processed meat a carcinogen.

3. Follow a high-fiber diet

Andrews explains that consuming 30 grams of fiber a day helps reduce the risk of colon cancer. She recommends that people seek fiber from plant sources, which include fruits, veggies, whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds.

“We need to be focusing more on adding these plant foods with every single meal,” she said. “You’re gonna get to your 30 grams pretty quick.”

4. Exercise regularly

Andrews insists that regular exercise is essential to lowering your risk of colon cancer. She suggests 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity a week, a recommendation that echoes the World Health Organization.

Moderate intensity is defined as the ability to talk but not sing while working out, while vigorous intensity equates to the inability to converse.

5. Move more, sit less

In addition to meeting your moderate or vigorous minutes each week, Andrews stresses the importance of being physically active throughout the day.

“I need you to be moving … using your body, moving around, doing things with your family, doing things with yourself, going for walks, doing things around the house,” she said. “Moving more and sitting less will reduce your risk of colon cancer.”

6. Limit red meats

Red meat is a red flag when it comes to cancer risk.

Though it’s nutrient-rich, red meat contains heme iron, which can facilitate the production of potentially carcinogenic chemicals.

According to Andrews, moderation is the name of the game. She says 18 ounces, or 500 grams of red meat a week, is generally OK. “You just don’t want to go beyond that 18 ounces,” she explained.

She also strongly cautions against the carnivore diet: “It’s a very low-fiber diet. It’s full of processed meats, it’s full of red meats. That’s going to increase your risk of colon cancer absolutely 100%.”

7. Choose whole grains

Andrews says to reach for the whole kind when it comes to grains. “You name it, there is a whole grain option, and I need you to be choosing that more. It’s going to be higher in fiber, it’s going to have more nutrition, likely more protein. It’s going to be a better choice,” she said.

8. Emphasize plant foods

In addition to adding fiber to your diet, plant foods are rich in phytochemicals and antioxidants, known to combat cancer.

“When you eat an orange, or nuts or a whole-wheat piece of bread, you’re reducing risk of cancer,” she said. “You’re shielding those cells from any type of free radicals … or you’re helping those cells repair and get back to normal and not become a cancerous cell. It’s amazing.”

9. Stop smoking

Andrews insists that if you want to lower your colon cancer risk, pass on puffing, particularly if you’re smoking and drinking.

“If there’s smoking going on, you’re definitely increasing your risk of many different cancers,” she said. “You increase your risk of cancer worse if you combine both the alcohol and the smoking.”

10. Get screened for cancer

Andrews recommends regular screenings. Screenings for colorectal cancer typically start at age 45, but those experiencing symptoms and those with a family history may be eligible earlier.

“Everyone’s going to be a little bit different, but you need to be checking in with your doctor and getting screened,” she said. “That’s a great way to find things if they’re there ahead of time so you can get them gone.”

11. Reduce body fat tissue

Andrews explains that a high amount of body fat tissue increases your risk of developing colon cancer.

To combat this fat and lower your risk, she suggests “more plant foods, higher fiber, more exercise, moving more — all of these things are going to help you lower that body fat.”

12. Embrace dairy

Andrews says calcium is key to colon health. Her suggestion to get down with dairy is supported by a recent study that suggests dairy products can help the immune system fight off tumors.

The Post reported that the compound trans-vaccenic acid, or TVA, found in dairy products like milk, cheese, butter and yogurt, seems to activate T cells, which help the immune system fight germs and protect against disease.

13. Improve gut health

Andrews says good gut health holds the key to staving off colon cancer. She urges those with GI issues to seek treatment and recommends everyone prioritize fiber, pro- and prebiotic foods, hydration and adequate sleep.

“What that does is it creates really consistent bowel movements,” she said. “You should not be chronically constipated. It should not be really hard for you to pass a bowel movement.”

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