colon cancer prevention evidence based health

The role of vitamin D, diet and exercise in prevention of colon cancer

Harvard Medical School publishes a health letter every year. In 2014, their letter listed five steps that help prevent colorectal cancer. In this post, I will explain three of the five points mentioned.

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Table of Contents

Colon Cancer Prevention

1.Vitamin D

Vitamin D is free (it comes from sunshine) and seems to have a protective effect on many diseases.

Exposing most of your body to sunshine 10 minutes per day is enough to have good levels of vitamin D. You can have your vitamin D checked by a doctor to discuss possible supplementation.

Although it is not clear yet whether vitamin D supplements have the same effect as vitamin D from sunlight, Harvard does recommend taking them.


People with vitamin D levels of 20ng/ml or more have a threefold lower risk of developing colon cancer than people with lower vitamin D levels. Older women especially profit from good levels if vitamin D as protection against colon cancer.

In case of having colon polyps, it seems that having a bit higher vitamin D levels, 30 to 35 ng/ml, is important. Discuss this with your physician if you might have this problem.

Related post: Protect Your Skin from Sun Damage, enjoy sun responsibly.

2. Diet regulations

Harvard recommendations for healthy bowels are:

  • Maximum 2 portions of red meat per week
  • Maximum 1-2 glasses of alcohol per day
  • A diet low in glycemic index. This means a diet composed mainly of vegetables! Foods that are rich in carbohydrates and low in fiber (for example, white bread, pastries, sweets, hamburger buns) tend to have a high glycemic index.

Related post: All recipes on this blog.

3. Exercise regularly

Harvard recommends 150 minutes of fast-paced WALKING per week. That comes down to about 20-25 minutes of fast-paced walking per day.

The Harvard health letter contains five steps, while I only mention three here. The remaining points are 1) colonoscopy and 2) taking aspirin daily. However, these options should always be discussed with your doctor, which is why I am not going to get into them here.

Colon Cancer Risk Factors

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It is never too soon to start applying above measures to help prevent colon cancer, especially if you have many of the risk factors, but even if you only have a few.

Good job on taking care of your health.

Have a great week,

Ana, MD

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