Eat these common foods to cut your risk of colon cancer

Whole grains are good for your heart—and they might prevent the second deadliest cancer for men, too.

After reviewing six studies in a meta-analysis, which included 8,320 cases, researchers concluded that eating at least 90 grams of whole grains per day can slash your colon cancer risk by 17 percent.

That’s a pretty big deal, since colorectal cancer is the third most diagnosed cancer in men, making it the second leading cause of cancer death, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS).

And colon cancer is quickly on the rise in young people. People born in 1990 have double the risk of colon cancer and quadruple the risk of rectal cancer than people born in 1950, a study from the ACS found.

So, how can eating oats and brown rice help prevent colon cancer from forming in the first place? Whole grains are a great source of dietary fiber, which helps reduce insulin resistance—or the inability for your body to absorb blood sugar, causing it to accumulate—which is a known risk factor of colon cancer. Fiber also keeps you regular, which is important, since passing waste quickly reduces the chances of cancer-causing mutations to develop.

Plus, the bran and germ of your grains are packed with certain anti-carcinogenic compounds, like vitamin E, selenium copper, and zinc, the report states.

To get the best bang for your nutritional buck, load up your plate with oatmeal, whole wheat bread, and brown or wild rice, which are all touted by the American Heart Association.

Just bear in mind your diet can only take you so far. Once you hit 50, you should start getting screened for colon cancer regularly, but only a little more than half of people who should get tested actually do so, according to the ACS.

Yet, colonoscopies can save your life, since a majority of people who are diagnosed with early-stage colon cancer are cured. If you have a first-degree family member that suffered from colon cancer, then you should start screenings at 40, or 10 years younger than when they were diagnosed, the American Academy of Gastroenterology recommends.

And if you experience the telltale symptoms—like blood in your stool, abdominal cramping, and persistent constipation or diarrhea—tell your doctor, stat. He or she may recommend a colonoscopy to check what's up.

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