Know your risk factors for colorectal cancer
Knowing your risk factors for colorectal cancer can save your life. The American Cancer Society (ACS) reports that colorectal cancer is the third most diagnosed cancer in the U.S. and they estimate that over 50500 people will die of colorectal cancer in 2018 alone. March Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month is the perfect time to find out how you can reduce the risk that you or someone you love will have this deadly disease.
Fortunately there are many things you can do to help prevent colorectal cancer. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) one of the single most effective ways to prevent colorectal cancer is screening exams particularly colonoscopy. The good news about colorectal cancer is that it virtually always begins with polyps in the colon. Polyps are growths along the lining of the large intestine and rectum. If these polyps are identified and removed early enough they cannot develop into cancer.
There are also several lifestyle choices you can make that may reduce your risk factors for colorectal cancer and according to ACS these choices relate to diet exercise and weight management and include:
Healthy Weight - People who are obese especially men have an increased risk of developing colorectal cancer. If you are overweight reaching and maintaining a healthy weight may reduce your risk and Reid Health has programs to assist with diet nutrition and behavior change.
Physical Activity - People who are sedentary and do not exercise are at an increased risk of developing colorectal cancer. Increasing your physical activity can be as simple as taking a walk or using the stairs each day.
Healthy Diet - People who eat red meat (beef pork lamb liver) several days a week are at an increased risk of developing colorectal cancer. If you enjoy red meat try to limit the number of days a week you eat it and try to avoid cooking it at high temperatures and until overly well-done. Eating a diet that includes lots of fresh vegetables and fruits may also help reduce your risk.
Limit Alcohol - Individuals who are heavy or moderate drinkers have an increased risk of colorectal cancer. Limiting alcohol intake to one drink a day for women or two a day for men may reduce your risk.
Don't Smoke - Tobacco use and smoking in particular increases your risk of developing many types of cancer including colorectal cancer. If you smoke quit now-the sooner the better. Reid Health can help by providing you the information and support you need to quit. Tobacco users can call 1.800.Quit.Now or visit QuitNowIndiana.com to enroll with the Indiana Tobacco Quitline.
Healthy lifestyle changes and routine cancer screenings can reduce your risk of developing colorectal cancer and may even save your life.