Colon cancer is no recluse: According to the American Cancer Society, it’s the second leading cause of cancer deaths in men and women, expected to take more than 49,000 lives in 2011 alone. But in addition to a colonoscopy, or colon cancer screening, you can lower your risk simply by what you put on your plate, says Dr. Yessenia Tantamango, lead author of a 2011 diet and colon cancer studyat Loma Linda University: “Every food goes through the colon, and the interaction between environmental factors—the foods—and genetic factors produce changes in the cells.”
Tantamango and colleagues analyzed data about the diets of almost 3,000 people followed for 26 years. During that time, 441 people developed rectal or colon polyps. About 10 percent of polyps are likely to become colon cancer, says Tantamango.