Colon cancer is the third most common cancer (not counting skin cancers) in the United States. March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and a great time to find out what you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones.
What you can do to lower the risk:
1. Get regular screenings. The American Cancer Society recommends that for men and women at average risk, screening should begin at age 50. Those with an increased risk (that is, personal history of inflammatory bowel disease, personal history of colorectal polyps or cancer, family history of the disease) should consult with their physician about screening before age 50. Polyps located and removed early prevent colorectal cancer in some people.
(Source: American Cancer Society http://www.cancer.org/cancer/colonandrectumcancer/detailedguide/colorectal-cancer-prevention)
2. Consider genetic testing. Your doctor may recommend genetic testing if you have a family history of
colorectal polyps or cancer.
3. Eat fruits and vegetables. Many studies have shown a connection between consumption of red and processed meats and colorectal cancer risk, but diets high in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables have been linked to lower risk. And some antioxidants may help protect the body against cancer. The USDA lists these foods among those that supply high levels of antioxidants:
Fruits * Vegetables * Prunes * Kale
Raisins * Spinach * Blueberries * Brussels sprouts
Blackberries * Alfalfa sprouts * Strawberries * Broccoli florets
Raspberries * Beets * Plums * Red bell peppers
Oranges * Onions * Red grapes * Corn * Cherries * Eggplant
4. Stay physically active. We’ve all heard it, and it’s true. Exercise improves your overall health, no matter your age. Staying active is one of the best ways to maintain a healthy weight while increasing your chance of disease prevention. Get started with a simple exercise like walking. Or spice up a stale exercise routine by adding a few more steps or sit-ups. Walk, jog, cycle, garden—all of these activities count. Start with baby steps. Check with your doctor before starting a new exercise regimen.
American Cancer Society http://www.cancer.org
Family PLZ! Online family history guidance and survey for colorectal cancer: http://www.familyplz.org/
National Cancer Institute http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/colon/Patient/page1
What is colorectal cancer?
Colon cancer usually starts as non-cancerous polyps that grow on the inner lining of the colon or rectum. Some of these polyps can turn into cancer. That’s why it’s important to get periodic screenings—so doctors can detect and remove polyps early.