General Guidelines

Eating a high-fiber diet has been associated with lower risk of colorectal cancer. Fiber is found in all plant foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. You may also benefit from eating less red meat.

Specific foods may help to lower the risk of colorectal cancer. These foods include onions, garlic, and cruciferous vegetables like kale, cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and radishes.

Regular exercise has been shown to reduce the risk of developing colorectal cancer. Even moderate exercise for 30 minutes per day is beneficial.

Obesity has been found to increase the risk of colorectal cancer. Doctors recommend losing excess weight to reduce colorectal cancer risk.

To reduce your risk of colorectal cancer, stop smoking. Smokers are more likely to develop and die of colorectal cancer than nonsmokers.

Avoid excessive alcohol use. Moderation is one drink for women and two drinks for men per day.

Colon cancer can run in families. If more than one close relative has developed colon cancer before age 60, you may be at increased risk. You may also be at risk if anyone in your family has been diagnosed with familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC).

If you have a strong family history of the disease, your doctor may recommend that you have a colonoscopy. After an initial colonoscopy, your doctor will recommend repeat colonoscopies depending on the findings.

Some studies have found a link between aspirin use and reduced rates of colorectal cancer. Since taking aspirin can have side effects, including gastrointestinal bleeding, talk to your doctor before deciding to start aspirin therapy.