Even though it is preventable, colorectal cancer is one of the most common cancers in the United States and is a leading cause of cancer-related deaths in both men and women. The good news, however, is that colorectal cancer is highly preventable and treatable, meaning you can reduce your risk of developing colorectal cancer and, if you do get it, treat it before serious complications develop. So, how do you prevent colorectal cancer?
1. Exercise Regularly
Not being physically active increases your chances of developing many cancers, including colorectal cancer. Getting the recommended 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity each week can help lower your risk of developing and dying from colorectal cancer.
The best way to know if you have reached moderate-intensity activity is if your heart rate rises, your breath becomes faster and feeler warmer. There are several activities you can participate in to help you reach the 150-minute goal, including
- Taking a brisk walk
- Riding a bike
You should aim for at least 30 minutes of activity at least five days a week. Always speak with your medical provider before you begin a new exercise routine to make sure it is safe for you to do so.
2. Eat a healthy diet
A diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains is often recommended to decrease the risk of chronic illness and other health issues. By increasing the amount of healthy, whole-food intro your diet, you are helping to add important vitamins and nutrients into the body that helps strengthen your immune system and help prevent colorectal cancer.
3. Stop smoking
People who smoke are at a higher chance of developing cancer, and not just lung cancer. When you smoke, you are introducing carcinogens (cancer-causing substances) into your body that weaken your immune system. When your immune system is weak, it cannot fight off cancer cells as well as if it were functioning normally.
Additionally, tobacco can damage cell DNA and even change the way the DNA grows and functions. When damaged or changed, the cell can grow abnormally and create a cancerous tumor.
4. Manage your weight
Individuals who are overweight are put at a higher risk of developing chronic health conditions, such as diabetes and high blood pressure and increases the chances of developing cancers like colorectal cancer.
There are several ways to manage your weight, including physical activity, decreased stress levels, getting enough sleep and eating right. Before beginning your weight loss journey, speak with your medical provider to discuss a healthy and sustainable way to do so. By creating a routine that fits into your current lifestyle, it will be easier for you to lose weight and keep it off.
5. Get screened
The best way to catch colorectal cancer before it becomes a serious issue is by getting screened. Screening helps to find cancer before signs and symptoms begin to develop. A screening colonoscopy can even remove polyps which may become cancerous in the future! The sooner that colorectal cancer is found, the sooner you can begin treatment, and the less likely severe symptoms, or even death, can occur. The American Cancer Society recommends that adults with an average risk for colorectal cancer begin getting screened at 45. Screening can either be done as a colonoscopy or through a stool-based test.
During the entire month of March, HealthLinc patients who complete and return an FOBT kit (a stool-based colorectal cancer test) will be entered into a drawing to win a $50 gift card. Individuals who are not HealthLinc patients can call 1-888-580-1060 to schedule an intake appointment.
Are you at an increased risk?
- Those who have a family history of colorectal cancer
- Those with a personal history of polyps (small clusters of cells in the lining of the colon)
- Those with a personal history of inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis
- Those with a personal history of getting radiation in the belly or pelvic area to treat prior cancer.