Each March, health professionals put the focus on Colon Cancer Awareness. Although colon cancer, sometimes referred to as colorectal cancer, is one of the most preventable types of cancer, it is the third most common cancer among men and women individually. While the death rate from colon cancer has decreased over the past 20 years, it is still the third most common cause of cancer related deaths in the United States.
Colon cancer has become known as a preventable disease as new information is revealed about the role of diet and lifestyle in development of this disease. In addition to diet and lifestyle factors, regular screening and early detection of abnormal cells in the colon can prevent the development of cancer.
In terms of statistics, 1 in 20 people are at risk of developing colorectal cancer and 1 in every 5 people diagnosed with colorectal cancer are related to someone with the disease. Individuals who have a family history of colon cancer are at higher risk of developing the disease themselves. Regular screening for colon cancer in individuals with no symptoms is a powerful tool for prevention. According to the American Cancer Society, the five-year survival rate for those who detect colon cancer in the early stages is 90%. Unfortunately, most of the American population does not go for regular screenings.
Diet and lifestyle factors can influence the risk of developing colon cancer. Research has found that both men and women who are overweight or obese have a high risk of developing colon cancer. Eating high amounts of red and processed meat and a low dietary fiber intake also puts people at a higher risk for developing the disease.
Do you want to be proactive about decreasing your risk of colon cancer? Studies have shown that food patterns including more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains with limited red and processed meats are associated with lower risks of developing colon cancer. This may be related to their role in weight management as well as their contribution to gastrointestinal health. Additionally, those who engage in a moderate amount of physical activity on a regular basis not only are a healthier body weight but have reduced risk of developing colorectal cancer or polyps.
Your turn to take action: Set goals for yourself this month to make at least 2 changes to you day-to-day habits which may help reduce your risk of colon cancer. Let me know what they are in the comments section below.