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4 Surprisingly Easy Ways to Lower Your Colorectal Cancer Risk

Make this easy lifestyle changes to ward off the big C. By Dawn Chen 

Photo: condesign /

Every March, we observe Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. In Singapore, colorectal cancer is currently the most prevalent cancer among men, and the second most common cancer among women. Here are four easy lifestyle changes you can make to reduce your risk of getting this dreaded disease, as shared by Dr Dennis Koh, consultant surgeon at Mount Elizabeth Hospital, and Dr Dean Koh, colorectal surgeon at Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital.

1. Cut down on red and processed meat

When choosing what to eat for dinner, you might be better off with chicken breasts compared to a steak or sausages. There have (unfortunately) been many epidemiological studies that associate a greater intake of red or processed meat with an increase in colorectal cancer. Red meat includes beef, pork, lamb or liver, and processed meat includes luncheon meat and hot dogs. 

Any form of processed meat increases the risk of cancer as carcinogens are produced when the meat is cooked at high temperatures or by charcoal grilling. Furthermore, nitrates and salts which are used in preparing processed meat leads to carcinogenic compounds being formed. 

Overall, there’s generally no harm in reducing your meat intake. Replace red and processed meats with fish and poultry instead, or see meat as a side dish rather than a main course. 

2. Eat more garlic

Several population studies have shown an association between increased intake of garlic and a reduced risk of certain cancers, including colorectal cancer. However, these studies were based on different preparation methods and dosages of garlic. According to the US National Cancer Institute, garlic is recognised as one of several vegetables with potential anti-cancer properties. For starters, stick to the World Health Organization’s recommendation of eating 2-5g of fresh garlic (approximately one clove) each day. 

3. Get enough vitamin D

Previous studies have shown that vitamin D helps to reduce cell proliferation and stimulate cell death in cancer cells. It has also been shown to have an anti-inflammatory effect. 

The good news is that Singaporean women generally do not lack vitamin D thanks to our year-round tropical climate (we can increase our vitamin D levels through skin exposure to some UV radiation). To boost your D levels, you can also opt for vitamin-fortified bread and milk.

4. Be physically active

Beyond just being linked to a lower risk of colorectal cancer, regular exercise has also been proven to reduce risks and mortality rates of other cancers. And the other benefits – keeping your heart healthy, lowering the risk of high blood pressure and diabetes, strengthening your bones, muscles and joints – you already know. 

For starters, aim to clock 300 minutes of moderate activity or 150 minutes of vigorous activity each week. Simple ways to incorporate more movement into your day include taking the stairs, taking public transport (as opposed to driving) and purposely parking slightly farther away from your destination. You could even get an activity tracker to motivate yourself! 

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4 Surprisingly Easy Ways to Lower Your Colorectal Cancer Risk 4 Surprisingly Easy Ways to Lower Your Colorectal Cancer Risk Reviewed by Lucille on 12:35:00 AM Rating: 5

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