By South Lake Gastroenterology –
Colon cancer is the most preventable, beatable cancer if it is detected early. The first step to preventing colon cancer is understanding what the risk factors are. Everyone is at risk and should take the necessary steps to prevent it. If you are at high risk for colon cancer, there are steps that you can take to decrease your risk.
Most of the time, we give little thought to the idea that we may be setting ourselves up for colon cancer. We don’t drink enough water, or eat the right foods. Smoking and obesity are independent risk factors for colon cancer. In fact, most people don’t think about colon cancer until they either have it or someone they love has it.
Age is one of the biggest factors associated with colon cancer. While young people can also get colon cancer, people over fifty are at the highest risk with the average age for colon cancer at 65-67 years old. Those who have a family history of cancer, as well as women who have had breast cancer, uterine cancer, or ovarian cancer are at high risk and require earlier screenings. Your diet can also put you at risk. Diets high in fat and calories, and those low in fiber can increase your risk for colon cancer.
Other risk factors include polyps on the wall of the colon or rectum and inflammatory bowel disease. If you have had these conditions, you may develop colon cancer later on. On average, a polyp can progress to colon cancer in 7-10 yrs. People who have Inflammatory Bowel Disease or Crohn’s Disease are at high risk, along with those people with multiple family members with colon cancer, other gastrointestinal tumors, breast cancer and malignancies of the GYN tract.
As with any other illness or disease, it is ideal to prevent it instead of waiting to do anything until you actually have it. Prevention is easier than curing a problem. The first step in prevention is to make regular colonoscopies as the standard mechanism for optimal screening. In many cases, there are no warning signs; finding and removing these polyps early helps to prevent late stages of colon cancer.
You may also make lifestyle changes to lower your risk. Reduce your intake of fat and calories, as well as your intake of meats and alcohol. You should increase the amount of exercise you do as well. Experts also recommend that you stop smoking, and use dietary supplements to ensure that you are getting enough minerals and nutrients.
You should get five servings of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, calcium, and folic acid each day. The use of baby aspirin each day is also recommended to reduce polyp formation.
Most importantly, you should also get regular screenings to make sure that no polyps have developed. The benefit of early detection for any cancer simply can not be stressed enough. When colon cancer is detected early , it is the most curable form of cancer that there is.
While colon cancer can affect anyone, it’s one cancer that is preventable. You can greatly reduce your risk of developing colon cancer by following these tips:
Starting at age 50, be screened regularly for colon cancer. If you have a personal or family history of cancer or colorectal polyps, or a personal history of inflammatory bowel disease, get screened earlier.
Maintain a Healthy Diet
Eating a healthy diet, one that’s low in fat and rich in fruits, vegetables (especially green, leafy vegetables) and whole grains, contributes to your colon’s health. A daily multi-vitamin containing .4 mg of folic acid may also be helpful in reducing your risk.
Regular exercise, at least 30 minutes four to five days a week, can reduce your risk. Even moderate exercise such as walking, gardening, or climbing supports colon health.
Smoking has been proven to increase the risk of colon cancer by 30-40%.
Use Alcohol in Moderation
Drink alcohol only in moderation to lower your risk of developing colon cancer.
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