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With the exception of lung cancer, cancer of the colon kills more people than any other type. Colon cancer is highly treatable and is often considered to be curable. And, even though this type of cancer runs in families, there are still things you can do to reduce your risk of getting colon cancer.

It’s interesting to note that colon cancer is rare in regions where vegetables and grains make up the bulk of the diet, and is more common in the United States and other Western nations where the diet is largely based on meat.

The American Cancer Society recommends at least five servings of fruit, vegetables, beans, and whole grains each day. While it has not yet been determined which of these protect you against colon cancer, research has zeroed in on the following: 

* Low fat: Fats boost the production of bile acids, which promote rapid cell growth.
* High fiber: Fiber, which is the indigestible part of plant-based foods, moves food through the bowel quickly, which reduces the contact with carcinogens and bile acids. It is recommended that you get at least 25 g of dietary fiber per day.
* Calcium: Consuming at least 1,000 mg of calcium each day (through diet and not through supplements) protects the colon by neutralizing bile acids and fatty acids.
* Antioxidants: Citrus fruits and dark-green and yellow vegetables are the best sources of antioxidants.
* Exercise: Physical exercise, like fiber, reduces your risk of colon cancer by quickly moving the passage of waste from your body. In addition, exercise stimulates blood flow to the colon. A good exercise regime—walking briskly or some other form of exercise for 30 minutes, three times a week.
* Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs: (also known as NSAIDs) Studies have shown that individuals who take an aspirin or ibuprofen regularly for years have a reduced risk of colon cancer. However, don’t be mislead; there is not enough evidence to justify taking an aspirin a day strictly for cancer prevention.
* Estrogen: Postmenopausal women who don’t take estrogen are more likely to develop colon cancer than those women who take estrogen.

Watch out for symptoms. Keep in mind that if you experience significant changes in your bowel habits, such as blood in the stool, rectal pains, or recurrent abdominal cramps, see a doctor immediately. Early detection is vital.