Can Popping Pills Prevent Cancer?

By Jon Herring

Several studies have shown that high doses of aspirin (300 mg a day or more) and possibly ibuprofen can protect against colorectal cancer. Not surprising in our pill-happy culture, thousands upon thousands of people have embarked upon this regimen with gusto. But before you run out and buy a bottle, you should know that popping aspirin can cause serious problems.

Taking high doses of aspirin on a continual basis dramatically increases your risk of intestinal bleeding, stroke, and kidney failure. In fact, the United States Preventive Services Task Force recently published a warning in the Annals of Internal Medicine suggesting that the health risks of aspirin decidedly outweigh the colon cancer prevention benefits, even among those who are at a high risk for the disease.

Colorectal cancer is the third most common form of cancer and the second leading cause of death due to cancer in the Western world. You should do what you can to prevent it. But aspirin is not the right way. In addition to drinking plenty of water, maintaining a healthy weight, and exercising consistently, here are four things you can do to dramatically reduce your risk of colon cancer:

Maintain healthy vitamin D levels by regularly exposing your skin to sunlight (without burning). If you are not able to enjoy the sun, get your vitamin D from cod liver oil or a supplement like this one from Carlson’s.

  • Eat cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli) and dairy for a calcium-rich diet.
  • Eat whole vegetables and fruits, nuts, and beans for a high-fiber diet.
  • Eat leafy green vegetables for a diet high in folate.
  • Do not eat meat that has been charred or burned. Sorry, grill lovers, but chargrilled meat (in fact, any meat cooked at high temperature) contains heterocyclic amines, which strongly promote cancer growth, particularly in the colon. The best (and healthiest) way I know to cook meat is with the FlavorWave Oven, where the temperature can be precisely controlled.
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