5 Ways to Lower Your Risk for Colon Cancer

Every year, more than 150,000 Americans are diagnosed with colorectal cancer, the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths among American adults. While there’s no way to completely eliminate our risks of colorectal cancer, there are steps you can take to lower that risk substantially.

In honor of Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, Michael H. Tarlowe, MD offers these five tips to help you reduce your risk of this common disease.

1. Quit smoking (and limit alcohol)

If you smoke, you have a much higher risk of developing colorectal cancer than if you don’t smoke. What’s more, smokers also have a higher risk of dying from colorectal cancer compared to nonsmokers. 

Certainly, quitting smoking isn’t easy, but the benefits it can offer for your overall health and wellness are significant. To get some support that can help you kick the habit once and for all, check out SmokeFree.gov or the American Lung Association website

If you drink alcohol, keep it to a minimum. Research shows that moderate and heavy drinking substantially increase your risk of colorectal cancer (and other serious medical problems too).

2. Focus on healthy eating

Diets high in processed and convenience foods tend to be associated with higher risks of cancer, along with diets that include a lot of unhealthy fats and red meats. On the other hand, diets that include fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy omega-3 fats can help reduce your risk.

Like quitting smoking, changing your eating habits isn’t always easy. Try making one or two changes at a time and look into the Mediterranean diet or DASH diet for inspiration.

3. Get up and move

Most of us know that being more active is important for our heart and lungs. But it can help reduce the risks of some cancers, too, including colorectal cancer.

Best of all, you don’t have to be an Olympic athlete to reap the benefits of exercise. Just a half hour of moderate-intensity activity on five or more days per week yields benefits for your health. Try adding a walk during lunch or after dinner to get the activity you need for better overall wellness.

4. Drop some pounds

Eating a healthy diet and being more active help you achieve this fourth item: losing extra weight. If you’re overweight or obese, you’re at higher risk of several cancers, including colorectal cancer.

Although researchers are still learning about this link, they believe hormones released by fat cells may play a role in cancer development. Being overweight can also lead to increased blood sugar levels and chronic inflammation, two conditions also associated with increased cancer risk.

5. Schedule a screening

Finally, one of the most important steps you can take to reduce your risk of colorectal cancer and catch cancer in its earliest stages is to have regular colorectal cancer screenings. Colorectal cancer screenings use a variety of methods to look for subtle changes that can occur in the presence of cancer cells or even earlier — the “precancerous” stage.

The CDC recommends regular screening for everyone between the ages of 45-75, or earlier if you have certain risk factors. Most screenings are performed every three, five, or 10 years, again depending on risk factors and the type of test you’re having.

Lowering your risk of colorectal cancer takes a little effort, but the benefits are well worth it. To learn more about colorectal cancer prevention or to schedule your screening, call 954-210-7127 or request an appointment online with Dr. Tarlowe today.

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