Best Ways to Lower Your Risk of Colon Cancer
September 27, 2023
Colon cancer is one of the more common cancers in the U.S., according to the American Cancer Society. It’s also a cancer that we can treat and oftentimes cure with proper testing and screening on a regular basis.
In addition to regular screening, research shows that habits related to diet, weight, and exercise are strongly linked to colon cancer risk. Changing some of these lifestyle habits may be hard. But making the changes can also lower the risk for many other types of cancer and other serious diseases like heart disease and diabetes.
How to Lower Your Risk of Colon Cancer
First and foremost, get screened for colon cancer. Screenings are tests that look for cancer before signs and symptoms develop. These tests can find colon or rectal cancer earlier, when treatments are more likely to be successful. Colonoscopies are a wonderful tool for screening.
The American Cancer Society recommends testing starting at age 45 for people at average risk. Some colorectal screening tests can also find and remove precancerous growths (polyps) in the colon or rectum. Polyps are not cancer, but over time cancer can start in the polyps. Removing them lowers the risk of cancer.
While screening is a top priority, here are some other lifestyle factors to consider:
- A healthy diet always matters. Diets that include lots of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains have been linked with a decreased risk of colon cancer. Also, eat less red and processed meats, which have been linked with an increased risk of cancer.
- Exercise regularly. Just like a healthy diet, regular exercise is always good for your body. If you are not physically active, you may have a greater chance of developing colon cancer. Being more active may help reduce your risk.
- Maintain an appropriate weight. Strongly linked to diet and exercise, being overweight or obese increases your risk of getting and dying from colon cancer. Eating healthier and increasing your physical activity can help you control your weight.
- Don’t smoke. Smoking is a major risk factor for at least 14 different cancers, including colon cancer. People who smoke are more likely than people who don't smoke to develop and die from colon cancer.
- Avoid alcohol. Alcohol use has been linked with a higher risk of colon cancer as well. It is best to not drink alcohol, but if you do, the American Cancer Society recommends no more than two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women.
- Increase vitamin D and calcium. Both calcium and vitamin D have shown to protect the colon. Talk to your doctor about which specific supplements you should take and how much.
Make Colorectal Screening a Priority at Alabama Colon & Rectal Institute
If it’s time for you to have a colonoscopy or other screening tests for colon cancer, schedule your appointment with Alabama Colon & Rectal Institute today!
Learn more about colon cancer at Alabama Colon & Rectal Institute.
Alabama Colon & Rectal Institute specializes in treating diseases of the colon, rectum, and anus. We are experts in performing colonoscopies, anorectal surgery, and minimally invasive colon surgery. Our three doctors are known regionally for their expertise in these areas. Visit our website for more information, give us a call to make an appointment at 205-458-5000, or email us at [email protected].