With colon cancer being the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States, it’s common to contemplate what can be done to reduce your risk of developing the disease. Over the years, experts have noted that some of our lifestyle habits may be contributing to our risk; an insight that has helped people realize that although some factors may be out of our control - there are lifestyle factors that can be controlled when it comes to reducing the risk of colon cancer.
So while many of us know that smoking is linked to lung cancer and too much sun may increase your risk of skin cancer, many of us might be surprised to hear that a bad diet and unhealthy lifestyle habits can contribute to your risk of developing colon cancer. In fact, studies suggest that colorectal cancer risk can be reduced by making certain healthy lifestyle modifications such as decreasing consumption of alcohol and eating more fruit and vegetables .
Can anything be done to reduce the risk of colon cancer?
Like many forms of cancer, there are a number of factors that are associated with colon cancer that simply can’t be controlled. This includes age, family history, and race or ethnicity. In saying that, there are risk factors you can change and according to the American Cancer Society (ACS), the link between diet, weight, exercise, and colorectal cancer risk are some of the strongest in comparison to other forms of cancer .
Increase your intake of the good stuff - that means fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. On top of this, be sure to limit your intake of red and processed meats - both of which have a strong correlation with raising colorectal cancer risk.
Make sure to get out and get active. Regular physical activity is linked to a reduced risk of developing colon cancer and it’s also without-a-doubt an important part in keeping your body and mind healthy. You don’t need to become a seasoned marathon runner either - about 30 minutes of moderate exercise per day is the typical recommendation.
If you’re a smoker, it’s time to quit, while it may not be easy - smokers are more likely to develop colorectal cancer and die from the disease than those who don’t smoke. If you are thinking about quitting, here’s what to expect the minutes, hours, and months after your last cigarette.
Keep alcohol to a minimum. Heavy to moderate alcohol intake is strongly linked to the risk of colorectal cancer. If you do drink alcohol, it’s best to keep it to no more than 2 per day for men and 1 for women.
Don’t forget to screen regularly if you’re aged 45 or over, have a family history of colorectal cancer or have an inflammatory bowel disease. With regular screening, cancer can be found early when it’s easier to treat and potential cancerous polyps can be spotted and removed before they progress. Talk to your doctor about the most suitable screening tests for you.
This Colon Cancer Awareness Month, LetsGetChecked is honored to team up with two incredible advocates to highlight the importance of early and regular screening: Colorectal Cancer Alliance and actress Zoe Saldana, best known for her roles in the films Avatar, Guardians of the Galaxy, and The Avengers.
We will be donating $1 Million worth of our at-home Colon Cancer Screening Tests as well as $100,000 to the Colorectal Cancer Alliance to help with their crucial work towards helping underserved communities get the treatment they may need.
Zoe Saldana is passionate about how early detection can help save lives and we are thankful that she is helping raise awareness surrounding the importance of regular screening. You can find out more through Zoe’s video on our Instagram here.