Colorectal cancer — a malignant disorder that arises in the colon or rectum — is one of the most common cancers in the United States. Statistics from the American Cancer Society (ACS) disclosed that approximately 1 in 25 women and 1 in 23 men will develop colon cancer or rectal cancer at some point during their lifetime. Fortunately, starting good habits can help lower your risk.
How to Prevent Colon Cancer
According to the ACS, National Cancer Institute, and other leading cancer research centers in the world, here are ten ways to help protect your colorectal health.
1. Get screened for colorectal cancer
Undergoing regular screening tests for colon cancer is the most recommended way to protect yourself or a loved one from this life-threatening disease. Detecting abnormal growths called polyps, which can develop into cancer, is a crucial factor in preventing the disease.
Most men and women should start screening for colon cancer at age 50, although some guidelines recommend age 45. Individuals with a family history of colon cancer may begin testing at a much younger age, especially since colon cancer cases are increasing among young adults. Speak with your physician to determine which procedures are right for you and how often you should undergo screening tests.
2. Eat plenty of whole grains, vegetables, and fruits
A diet that includes a healthy dose of whole grains, vegetables, and fruits have an association with a reduced risk of colorectal cancer. Each day, eating about three servings (90 grams) of whole grains alone lowers the risk of colorectal cancer by 17 percent.
3. Limit consumption of red meat, especially processed meat
Dr. Rachel Thompson from the World Cancer Research International stated that eating too much red meat — such as pork, steak, and hamburger — increases the risk of developing colon cancer. Processed and preserved meat — including sausage, bacon, and baloney — raises the risk even more. Minimize your consumption of these delicious yet harmful delicacies to three servings per week. Eating less of them would be even better.
4. Watch your weight
Being overweight or obese raises your risk of acquiring and dying from colorectal cancer. “People who are obese are slightly (about 30%) more likely to develop colorectal cancer than normal-weight people. A higher BMI is associated with increased risks of colon and rectal cancers in both men and in women, but the increases are higher in men than in women,” revealed the ACS.
5. Get regular exercise
If you live a sedentary lifestyle, you are most likely gaining weight and increasing your chances of contracting colorectal cancer. Booting your activity level may help reduce your risk. Even something as simple as walking for 30 to 45 minutes a day can increase the number of immune system cells present in your body.
6. Do not smoke or use tobacco products
Long-term smokers have a much higher chance than non-smokers to develop and succumb to colon or rectal cancer. If you are a chain smoker with a desire to quit, read our guide to quitting tobacco, or call the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at 1-800-QUIT-NOW. Getting the help you need raises the likelihood of quitting successfully.
7. Limit alcohol consumption
Alcohol causes cancer in many different areas of the body, including the colon and rectum. The ACS recommends no more than one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men. A single drink is equivalent to five ounces of wine, twelve ounces of beer, or one-and-a-half ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits (hard liquor).
8. Get enough calcium and vitamin D
There is good evidence suggesting that getting adequate calcium and vitamin D play a role in protecting against colon cancer. Aim for 1,000 to 1,200 milligrams calcium per day and about 1,000 international units (IU) of vitamin D a day.
9. Consider taking a multivitamin with folate
A daily multivitamin is an excellent nutrition insurance policy that may prevent colon cancer. Besides calcium and vitamin D, most multivitamins contain dietary folate, which may lower the risk of malignant diseases. Avoid mega-dose vitamins since a standard multivitamin is all your body needs.
10. Work during the daytime instead of at night
Working a night shift may heighten colorectal cancer risks due to alleged changes in levels of melatonin—a hormone that regulates the body’s sleep-wake cycle. Although more research is necessary to support the connection between working at night and cancer, choosing a work schedule that revolves around the daytime is better for your health overall. Working at night poses several threats to your health, including slowing your metabolism and increasing your risk of cancer-triggering obesity.
Developing new lifestyle habits may be difficult at first, but making these positive changes may save your life and even lower your risk of several other disorders, including different cancer types, heart disease, and diabetes.
Risk Factors You Cannot Change
While you can do something about the aforementioned risk factors for colon and rectal cancer, there are others that you cannot change:
- Being older. A man and woman’s risk of colorectal cancer increases with age. Younger adults can get it as well, but it is much more common after age 50.
- Having a personal history of colorectal polyps or colorectal cancer.
- Having a family history of colorectal cancer or adenomatous polyps.
- Having a personal history of inflammatory bowel disease.
- Having an inherited syndrome, such as:
- Lynch syndrome
- Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP)
- Peutz-Jeghers syndrome (PJS)
- MYH-associated polyposis (MAP)
- Being of African descent. For unclear reasons, African-Americans have the highest rates of colorectal cancer incidence and mortality in the United States.
- Having type 2 diabetes.
- Previous radiation therapy to treat prostate cancer.
If you have one or more risk factors for colorectal cancer, do not lose hope. Following the ten preventive measures we compiled from leading cancer research centers above — especially tip #1: getting regular screenings — still plays a role in reducing your cancer risk.
What To Do When the Unexpected Happens
Sometimes, no matter how careful we are and how healthy we live our lives, cancer finds a way to break down our walls. However, it is not a death sentence. If you are looking for powerful alternatives to harmful cancer treatments, choose New Hope Unlimited. Our combination of conventional and holistic colorectal cancer treatments aim to strengthen the immune system, reverse the symptoms of colorectal malignancies, and ultimately improve your chances of achieving remission. Call us today at 480-757-6573 to schedule a consultation.