Can vegetarians also get colon cancer? 6 tips for a healthy vegetarian diet


dr Liu Zhongping, a cardiologist, mentioned that he had two friends who had been vegetarians for more than two decades. However, both developed symptoms of colon cancer in their 50s and were diagnosed with end-stage colon cancer, and one of them was a monk who had been a vegetarian for more than 30 years. Eating red meat or processed meats like sausage and ham can increase your risk of colon cancer. Why do some people still get colon cancer even though they eat vegetarian food?

The Journal of the American Medical Association – Internal Medicine published a large medical study in 2015 that tracked the diets of more than 70,000 Christians with healthy habits and colon cancer over a seven-year period.

The study found that vegans had a 16 percent lower risk of colon cancer and lacto-ovo-vegetarians (who consume dairy and eggs) had an 18 percent lower risk compared to non-vegetarians. The other semi-vegetarians had only a 7 percent risk reduction.

This study underscores the fact that high consumption of fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of colon cancer. In recent years there have also been many concepts for eating vegetarian food for health reasons. However, some vegetarians still get colon cancer, such as Chadwick Boseman, the star of the film Black Panther, who was vegetarian before his death from colon cancer.

dr Jianxian Wu from the Department of Hepatology and Gastroenterology at Taipei Hospital pointed out that diet is not the sole cause of colon cancer. Exposure to environmental carcinogens, poor lifestyle choices, being over 40 years of age, and a family history of colon cancer or colon polyps are all high risk factors for colon cancer.

In terms of diet alone, however, a “vegetarian diet” does not equate to a “healthy diet,” and what matters is what is eaten. Although many people follow a vegetarian diet, the ingredients and preparation methods can actually increase the risk of colon cancer.

Avoiding two major vegetarian minefields: processed vegetarian products and high-temperature cooking

To prevent colon cancer, we should watch out for two major vegetarian minefields: processed vegetarian products and high-temperature cooking.

There is a wide range of processed vegetarian products on the market including vegetarian meat, vegetarian meatloaf, vegetarian ham and vegetarian sausages… These are mostly imitation meats which appear to be more nutritious than real meat. In fact, however, just like processed meat, these products are all “processed” in a similar way.

dr Wu pointed out that processed meat is harmful to health due to the high temperatures used to process the products, as well as the pickling, smoking and other procedures used in the process, which is prone to forming carcinogens. For example, the proteins in meat are denatured at high temperatures. Likewise, the raw materials of processed vegetarian products are mostly soybeans, which are vegetable proteins and are also suspected of being carcinogenic after high-temperature processing.

Some processed vegetarian products are high in added fat, sugar, and/or soy sauce, or have been smoked to add flavor. However, high-fat, high-sugar, smoked, or canned foods can increase the risk of colon cancer.

In addition, high-salt foods can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. In addition, some processed vegetarian foods contain a large number of chemical additives such as colorings, flavor enhancers, preservatives and bactericides.

dr Wu added that processed vegetarian products have their advantages as they are more flavorful and tastier than unprocessed vegan foods, so they can be consumed in moderation. However, we should choose products from qualified manufacturers and avoid excessive chemical additives listed in the ingredients list.

The American Cancer Society’s 2019 Colorectal Cancer Report, published in the journal Gut, showed that South Korea had the highest incidence of colorectal cancer among adults under the age of 50. Scientists believe this is related to Koreans’ love of grilled meat.

High-temperature cooking methods such as grilling and deep-frying are not conducive to preventing colon cancer. Vegetables are particularly prone to burning when grilled, and it’s best not to eat the burnt parts.

Additionally, some restaurants sell cooked vegetarian food made from processed vegetarian meat and re-cooked by roasting and deep-frying at high temperatures, adding another layer of risk.

6 tips to prevent colon cancer through intelligent vegetarian nutrition

To prevent colon cancer through vegetarianism, there are a number of healthy eating methods.

Eat lots of high-fiber and dark green vegetables

Eating high-fiber foods is key to preventing colon cancer. dr Mingzhu Chen, director of the Department of Chinese Medicine at Taipei Hospital, pointed out that the environment around the colon must be kept in good condition to reduce the incidence of colon cancer. The dietary fiber can absorb body wastes and stimulate intestinal peristalsis to make stool smooth, and then the wastes are expelled from the body to reduce intestinal pathology.

Of all the vegetables, the dark green ones are the best. according to dr Wu, these vegetables are rich in antioxidants that are beneficial for fighting colon cancer.

Use natural foods as key ingredients and avoid over-seasoning and high-temperature cooking

It is recommended to boil, roast, stew and stew foods while limiting the use of high-temperature cooking techniques such as roasting and deep-frying. And we should avoid heavy seasoning.

dr Lobsang Gyaltsen, renowned preventive medicine expert and director of the Lobsang Preventive Medicine Group, recommends eating more natural, unrefined foods, such as: B. Whole grain products, and reduce intake of refined starch products.

Consumption of high-quality vegetable proteins

For plant-based protein sources, choose natural legumes like soybeans, black beans, edamame beans, and peas, or less-processed vegetarian foods like tofu, dried beans, and soy milk.

At the same time, we should reduce our consumption of overprocessed plant proteins with little nutritional value, such as B. fried vegetarian “meat” reduce.

Balanced nutrition with many colors

We should eat a variety of fruits and vegetables of all colors, because different kinds of fruits and vegetables of different colors contain different phytochemicals, which can enhance the body’s immunity and prevent cancer.

The Formosa Cancer Foundation recommends adult women eat seven servings of fruits and vegetables daily, including four servings of vegetables and three servings of fruit; and adult men should eat nine servings of fruits and vegetables daily, including five servings of vegetables and four servings of fruit.

dr Chen stressed that we cannot eat only one type of fruit and vegetable. For example, we cannot consume spinach in excess precisely because it is very nutritious. When the body absorbs too much of the minerals from spinach, it can lead to an imbalance in the body’s physiological responses.

Supplementing fermented foods to improve the gut microbiome

Lacto-ovo vegetarians can consume many fermented milk products such as yogurt. dr Wu explained that fermented milk products not only provide protein, calcium and other nutrients, but also contain a large number of good bacteria that are beneficial to gut health. However, people with lactose intolerance are advised to consume small amounts of fermented milk products to avoid problems like gas and diarrhea.

We can also consume other fermented foods, including miso, kimchi, and vinegar, all of which contain probiotics. However, commercial kimchi should be consumed in moderation because, in addition to the possibility of excess sodium intake, it may also contain many additives.

Consumption of foods high in omega-3

Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids are beneficial in reducing the occurrence, progression and distant metastasis of colon cancer.

The general public can supplement omega-3 by eating fish, and vegetarians can get this nutrient from natural plant foods such as sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, walnuts, avocados, and chia seed oil.

Finally, in addition to a healthy diet, we should exercise moderately, avoid excessive alcohol consumption, quit smoking and maintain a healthy weight. People over the age of 50 should have annual colon cancer stool screening tests and regular colonoscopy. If you have changes in bowel habits, blood-colored stools, mucus, a foul smell, and/or changes in shape in the stool, you should see a doctor.

Epoch Health articles are provided for informational purposes and are not a substitute for individual medical advice. Please consult a trusted professional for personal medical advice, diagnosis and treatment.


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