Vegan diets are on the rise for many reasons, including environmental concerns, religious and ethical principles, cultural factors, and perceived health benefits.
For a diet to be considered vegan, it must include only plant-based foods, meaning that it excludes meat, fish, eggs, dairy, and animal byproducts like gelatin and honey.
Numerous studies point to the health benefits of vegan diets, suggesting that, when followed properly, a vegan diet can help
Some research suggests that it may even help lower the risk of some cancers.
Since colon cancer is the
This article explores the research into whether a vegan diet can help prevent or treat colon cancer.
“Colon cancer” is short for colorectal cancer, which occurs when cancerous cells grow in the colon or rectum.
- inflammatory bowel disease
- genetics and family history of colon cancer
- low levels of physical activity or exercise
- diets low in fiber and high in fat
- diets high in processed meats
- overweight and obesity
- smoking of tobacco products
- alcohol use
Although you cannot modify some of these risk factors, such as your genes and family history, you can take some actionable steps to reduce your risk. Changing your typical diet may be one of them.
There is some evidence that switching to a partially or fully plant-based diet may help prevent colon cancer.
But keep in mind that not all the plant-based diets included in the review were fully vegan diets.
Though promising, this study is considered low quality because of a potential conflict of interest and other limitations.
Additionally, vegetarian diets, although considered plant-based, differ from vegan diets in that they may include eggs and dairy.
On that note, there’s no standard definition of “plant-based” diets in these studies, and the meaning of the term
And if we focus strictly vegan diets, we know that they tend to be rich in legumes, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds — all of which are high in fiber.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to go fully vegan to reap the benefits of plant-based eating. A vegan diet may not be for everyone, and it’s OK if you prefer to keep some animal proteins in your diet.
Overall, research suggests that simply adding more plant-based foods to your diet can lower your colorectal cancer risk.
You might consider reducing your intake of processed and red meats, but most poultry, fish, and dairy products are not associated with higher colorectal cancer risk.
Our best advice? Fill your bowls and plates with more plant-based foods. Enjoy legumes, whole grains, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables more often.
Unfortunately, there is no evidence that a vegan diet can treat colon cancer.
This could be because of the
But vegan diets
Of course, be sure to discuss your diet with your cancer care team, especially if you have any questions or concerns or want to make any drastic changes, such as going vegan.
Research on cancer survivorship and nutrition is sparse, but one
However, a more recent
Regardless of the mixed research results, the
In addition to dietary changes, there are other lifestyle modifications you can make to reduce your risk of developing colon cancer.
Alcohol is a big factor. Older research suggests that excessive alcohol intake may be linked to a
The American Cancer Society (ACS)
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s
Smoking is another major risk factor. If you currently smoke tobacco products, consider quitting or joining a smoking cessation program to support you in cutting back.
Exercise also plays a role. The American Institute for Cancer Research recommends getting at least 150 minutes, or 2.5 hours, of some kind of physical activity each week.
Finally, being proactive is important, as colon cancer is most treatable when caught early.
Get regular colon cancer screenings if you are over 50 years old or have an increased risk of developing colon cancer. Some experts now say that people in their 40s should get regular screenings too.
Here are some questions people often ask about vegan diets and colon cancer.
Can a plant-based diet reverse colon cancer?
Unfortunately, plant-based diets cannot reverse colon cancer. However, research suggests that following a plant-based diet may help reduce the risk of developing the cancer.
In addition, plant-based diets tend to be rich in nutrients, which are
Does being vegan lower cancer risk?
Overall, well-planned vegan diets are associated with a lower risk of cancer.
There may be several reasons for this, such as the increased fiber intake and decreased red and processed meat intake.
What is the best diet to prevent colon cancer?
The best eating pattern to prevent colon cancer is one that includes a variety of plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole grains.
Animal-based proteins, such as fish, poultry, and dairy, may also be included.
There are many risk factors for developing colon cancer, some of which are modifiable, which means you can change or improve them.
Research shows that eating more plant-based foods and getting enough fiber protects against colon cancer. Reducing your intake of red and processed meats can also help, and a plant-based diet excludes those foods by default.
However, to reap the rewards of plant-based eating, you don’t have to go fully vegan unless you’d like to. You can simply include more plant-based foods in your regular eating pattern.