5 steps toward better colorectal health

Did you know colorectal cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in the US? It will affect about 1 in 25 Americans in their lifetime. March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, making it an ideal time to look at ways to prevent colorectal cancer and increase your overall health at the same time.

1.) Eat more fruits, veggies, and whole grains—and fewer meats Small tweaks to your diet may make a big difference. According to the American Cancer Society, diets high in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains have been linked to a lower risk of colon or rectal cancer. Another smart move: limit red and processed meats, which have been linked to a greater risk of colorectal cancer.

2.) Move your body We’ve all heard exercise is good for your heart and your weight. But did you know this? Studies have shown a link between reduced risk of colorectal cancer in people who exercise regularly. Also encouraging: regular exercisers who were diagnosed with a colorectal cancer had a notably higher survival rate. *1

3.) Maintain a healthy weight Being overweight can increase your risk of colon cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute, being obese increases your chances of getting colorectal cancer by about 30%.2 If you need help losing weight, your Primary Care Provider (PCP) is a great place to start. *

4.) Limit alcohol – and stop smoking Colorectal cancer has been linked to alcohol use, according to the American Cancer Society. If you drink alcohol, limit yourself to one drink per day for women and two for men. The connection between smoking and many serious conditions is long established, and colon cancer is no exception. Please talk to your PCP if you need any help quitting either drinking or smoking.

5.) Follow screening guidelines Even without lifestyle changes, there is another thing you can do: get your screenings! Depending on your age, health, and other risk factors, your doctor will recommend the screenings best for you. And check this out: if your doctor recommends a colonoscopy, it can do more than detect cancer. Polyps discovered during the procedure can be removed before they have a chance to develop into cancer.

As you can see, there is a lot you can do to help prevent this common cancer.

*1 https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/obesity/physical-activity-fact-sheet 

*2 https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/obesity/obesity-fact-sheet 

Additional sources: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/colon-rectal-cancer/causes-risks-prevention/risk-factors.html  https://www.cancer.org/latest-news/six-ways-to-lower-your-risk-for-colon-cancer.html 

Author: Stephanie Sample

March 10, 2021