Certain foods and drugs may lower risk of colon cancer

In the journals

Published: January, 2021

Colon cancer prevention involves following a healthy lifestyle — for instance, exercising and not smoking — and periodically getting a screening test such as a colonoscopy. But what impact do diet and medications have? A recent review of 80 statistical analyses published over the last 40 years explored this question. The review was published online Oct. 1, 2020, by the journal Gut.

Over all, the results were disappointing in that no specific drug, food, or supplement stood out in the body of evidence. Yet some of the reviewed studies did show a link between a lower risk of colon cancer and use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) — such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), and naproxen (Aleve) —and a higher intake of fruits, vegetables, and fiber. But other studies did not.

The findings did not provide clear-cut information on doses and durations of supplements and food or whether certain ones were better. Most importantly, there is no proof that NSAIDs prevent colon cancer in the general population, and therefore you should not take an NSAID just for cancer prevention unless advised by your doctor. But making some nutritional adjustments in your diet, like adding more fruits and vegetables and getting more fiber is reasonable, since these offer other health benefits as well.

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