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Flavanoids may lower risk of colorectal cancer

Lowering Your Risk of Colorectal Cancer with Flavonoids

Would you like to lower your risk of colorectal cancer?

Who could possibly answer “no” to that question?

The mighty compounds

In an e-Alert I sent you a few years ago, I called flavonoids the humble, hard-working, defensive coordinators of the plant world. Flavonoids are compounds that give fruits and vegetables their color. When eaten, they provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory protection.

A new study from Universit degli Studi di Milano in Italy investigated the reported cancer-fighting properties of flavonoids with a food-frequency survey of more than 6,000 subjects. Nearly 2,000 had been diagnosed with colorectal cancers. The rest of the subjects were cancer-free.

Using recently published information about food composition, researchers were able to assess reduced colorectal cancer risk associated with high intake of six different types of flavonoids. Two of the flavonoids were not linked with lowered risk, but these four were:

  • Flavonols – 46 percent reduced risk (mostly found in tea)
  • Anthocyanidins – 43 percent reduced risk (mostly found in blueberries and other berries)
  • Isoflavones – 24 percent reduced risk (mostly found in beans, including soybeans, as well as lentils, chickpeas and clover)
  • Flavones – 22 percent reduced risk (mostly found in citrus fruit)

Put them all together

As much as 80 percent of all colorectal cancers might be prevented with dietary modifications, according to the European School of Oncology. But flavonoids intake is only part of the prevention story.

The Italian study inspired me to check past e-Alerts for other ways to help prevent colorectal cancers, and I came up with these steps:

Last year I told you about a study from a digestive cancer center in France. When food intakes were assessed in nearly 800 subjects, researchers found five nutrients linked with a lower risk of colorectal polyps: folate, beta-carotene, and vitamins B6, C and D.

Later in the year, another study of nearly 38,000 female subjects confirmed that a high intake of folate and vitamin B6 was associated with a reduced colorectal cancer risk.

Calcium has also been shown to help protect the colon. In a four-year intervention study, 930 subjects with colorectal polyps took a 1,200 mg calcium supplement daily or a placebo. Colonoscopy exams showed that subjects in the calcium group generally had fewer polyps compared to the placebo group. Calcium also significantly lowered the risk of advanced polyps.

A 15-year Swedish study of more than 61,000 middle-aged women revealed a 40 percent reduced risk of colorectal cancer among women with the highest intake of magnesium compared to women with the lowest intake of the mineral.

In 2003, an American Cancer Society study of more than 145,000 subjects that ran for five years showed that subjects who reported regular multivitamin use for more than a decade had a 30 percent reduced risk of colorectal cancer compared to those who didn’t take multis.

Beyond dietary changes and supplement intake, there are three things you can do to help reduce colorectal cancer risk:

  • Get a colonoscopy
  • If you smoke cigarettes, stop smoking
  • Exercise regularly

According to a report from the Mayo Clinic, colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S. Please share this e-Alert with friends and family to let them know just how many options they have when it comes to lowering risk.