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These Surprising Foods May Lower Your Colorectal Cancer Risk, New Study Says

Experts say these two staples may offer protection against the third most common cancer in the U.S.

A recent study suggested that too much meat can increase the risk of colon cancer, even among young adults… so what is advisable to eat, if you'd like to protect yourself against colorectal cancer—aka what the American Cancer Society says is the third most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women? A new study led by researchers in Europe and the U.S. is pointing to two common foods, in particular.

Research that was just published in the journal Nature Communications evaluated 860 past studies to understand the association between food intake and individuals' risk for developing or dying from 11 types of cancer, including: Colorectal cancer, cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, esophageal cancer, stomach cancer, liver cancer, gallbladder cancer, lung cancer, skin cancers (including melanoma, basal cell, and squamous cell carcinomas) female breast cancer, kidney, and bladder cancer.

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Similar to another recent study, alcohol was strongly associated with most of these cancers, while red meat, in particular, was shown to increase the risk of colorectal cancer.

When it came to reducing the risk of colorectal cancer, the researchers found that dairy and whole grains were inversely correlated with incidences of the disease. That is, the more regularly individuals consumed these two foods, the less likely they were to develop colorectal cancer.


Specifically, the researchers note that eating approximately 14 ounces of dairy (possibly including an average of seven ounces of milk) and three ounces of whole grains per day was associated with lower colorectal risk.

Other interesting observations: The intake of fruits and vegetables was inversely associated with cancer of the pharynx, which composes an upper section of the throat.

Fruit, Vitamin C, and folate were all associated with a lower risk of lung cancer, while coffee lowered the risk of liver cancer and basal cell carcinoma.

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Krissy Gasbarre
Krissy is a senior news editor at Eat This, Not That!, managing morning and weekend news related to nutrition, wellness, restaurants and groceries (with a focus on beverages), and more. Read more about Krissy
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