How Healthy Choices Can Help You Avoid Colon Cancer
Colon cancer is the third most common type of cancer in the United States, though it is one of the most preventable. Each year, 140,000 people are diagnosed with colon cancer, and over a million people have a history of colon cancer.
These are certainly concerning statistics, but there is good news. By making healthier choices, 75% of all colon cancer cases can be prevented.
By taking charge of your health, you can lower your risk of colon cancer. These healthy choices should help to ensure that you will be around for all of life’s greatest moments.
Get Recommended Screenings
Screening is critical in both detecting the early stages of colon cancer and detecting polyps that can turn into colon cancer. Generally, you should begin regular screening when you turn 50. However, certain factors can indicate that earlier testing may be needed, including a family history of colon cancer and conditions like inflammatory bowel disease. Your doctor can help you determine when to begin screening.
There are a number of screening tests available, but colonoscopy is considered the gold standard of screening tests because it allows for the most complete examination of the colon. If any polyps or abnormalities are found during the colonoscopy, they can be removed or biopsied for further testing. Consult with our doctor to determine which screening test is right for you.
Smoking is known to be a major factor in at least 14 different cancers, including colon cancer. It also increases the risk of several other diseases, including heart disease, stroke, and emphysema. Quitting or avoiding smoking altogether is one of the best things you can do for your overall health, not just in lowering your risk of cancer.
Maintaining a Healthy Weight
Next to smoking, maintaining a healthy weight is one of the best things you can do for your health. Colon cancer is among 11 different cancers that have been linked to weight gain and obesity. If you have been putting on weight, take steps to stop gaining weight, and then begin working toward a goal weight. Ideally, you should aim to weigh close to what you did when you were 18.
Regular physical activity can lower the risk of colon cancer and other diseases. Ideally, you should aim for 30 or more minutes of moderate activity per day. Brisk walking, cycling, gardening, and dancing are all great activities to try, but choose something that you enjoy doing.
Drink in Moderation
Alcohol can increase your risk of colon cancer even at low levels, even though it is known to be heart-healthy in moderation. Drinking in moderation should not greatly affect your risk of colon cancer. Women should have no more than one drink per day, while men should have no more than two drinks per day. If you are drinking more than that, cutting down or quitting completely could lower your risk of colon cancer and improve your overall health.
Limit Red Meat in Your Diet
Red meat like beef and pork can increase your risk of colon cancer if you have too much of it in your diet. Try to limit yourself to no more than 3 servings of red meat per week. If you can eat less than that, even better. Steaks, hamburgers, and pork can increase your risk of colon cancer, but processed meats like sausage, bacon, and bologna carry even higher risks.