The American Cancer Society reports that the number of people diagnosed with colorectal cancer is on the decline due to lifestyle changes and an increase in screenings. However, colorectal cancer is still the third most common cancer in the United States.
You may not be able to prevent colorectal cancer completely, but you can take steps to reduce your risk. In this post, our team at Obstetricians & Gynecologists, PC, in Grand Island and Hastings, Nebraska, share some tips on reducing your risk of developing colorectal cancer.
The best tool available for preventing colorectal cancer is getting screened with a colonoscopy. Most colon cancer develops from colon polyps, which are noncancerous growths that may become cancerous when left untreated. Finding and removing these polyps may prevent onset of colon cancer.
Adults should start colon cancer screening at age 45, or younger if there are risk factors like a family history of colon cancer or a personal history of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
Though researchers are still investigating the connection between diet and colorectal cancer risk, people with diets high in fiber and calcium and low in alcohol and red meat are at a lower risk of developing colorectal cancer.
This means eating a balanced diet filled with more whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and calcium-rich foods like yogurt and fortified plant milk may offer additional protection against this common type of gastrointestinal cancer. Also, instead centering meals around beef and pork, choose other sources of protein like fish, poultry, and beans.
Getting more physical activity may also lower your risk of developing colorectal cancer. Research shows that aerobic exercise may help fight off colorectal cancer by increasing the body’s production of cancer-fighting cells that repair DNA in abnormal cells, reducing the risk of those cells turning into cancer.
Aim for 150-300 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise each week — for example, a brisk walk, a bike ride, or a doubles game of tennis.
People who are overweight or obese are at greater risk of developing colorectal cancer. Eating a balanced diet and getting regular exercise can help you get to and stay at your healthy weight, lowering your risk of weight-related health problems like colorectal cancer.
Our primary care team is committed to managing your total health. We can talk to you about colorectal cancer, what you can do to protect your health, and help you schedule your colon cancer screening. Call the office near you today or request an appointment online.