By US Health and Wellness
Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States among men and women combined.
The colon is a part of your large intestine and the final segment of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Its purpose is to absorb water and electrolytes from food and then remove any final waste products from your body.
Your colon health is an important player in your body’s overall health. You can protect your colon with routine screenings, a healthy diet and making healthy lifestyle choices.
Colorectal Cancer Screenings
The majority of colorectal cancers begin in the colon or rectum as precancerous polyps. Polyps are abnormal growths that can be benign or precancerous. During a colorectal cancer screening, precancerous polyps are found and removed before they can turn into cancer.
Precancerous polyps may exist in the colon or rectum for years before they develop into an invasive cancer and, even then, they may not cause any noticeable symptoms.
When symptoms do develop, they may include:
Your risk for getting colorectal cancer increases as you age. For this reason, the current recommendation by the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) is to begin colorectal screenings at the age of 45. However, earlier screenings may be recommended by your doctor depending on your risk factors.
Risk factors for colorectal cancer include:
A diagnosis of inflammatory bowel diseases.
A personal or family history of colorectal cancer or colorectal polyps.
A genetic syndrome such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (Lynch syndrome).
The most effective way to reduce your risk for colorectal cancer is to get a colorectal screening.
Healthy Food Choices
Protect your colon by making healthy food choices. Medical experts recommend the following dietary adjustments:
Eat a diet low in animal fats.
Eating red and processed meats may increase your risk for colorectal cancer.
Some examples of red and processed meats include:
Eat a diet high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Eating fiber, fruits and vegetables may decrease your risk for colorectal cancer.
Some examples of fiber, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains include:
Healthy Lifestyle Choices
Along with a healthy diet, medical experts also recommend the following lifestyle choices to maintain a healthy colon:
Regular physical activity
Adults need at least 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity activity.
Adults need two days of muscle strengthening activities.
Tobacco can cause cancer almost anywhere in your body including the colon and rectum.
Maintain a healthy weight
Being overweight or having obesity has been linked to an increased risk for thirteen types of cancer including colorectal cancer.
Reduce alcohol intake
Drinking alcohol increases your risk for six kinds of cancer including cancer of the colon and rectum.
Your colon plays an important role in your digestive system. Keep your colon healthy by eating a well-balanced diet high in fiber, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and low in red and processed meats. Talk with your doctor about low-dose aspirin.
Living a healthy lifestyle can protect your colon and protecting your colon can ensure a better, healthier quality of life. Get regular physical activity, quit smoking, maintain a healthy weight and reduce your alcohol intake.
Most importantly, talk with your doctor about your risk factors for colorectal cancer and when you should start colorectal screenings.
Information provided by Roadmap to Health is for informational and/or educational purposes only. Content is not engaged in rendering medical or similar professional services or advice, and the information provided is not a substitute for the professional judgment of a health care professional. Individuals should consult a physician or other medical professional for advice regarding any medical condition or treatment.