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Preventing Colon Cancer

Preventing Colon Cancer at Any Age

Thanks to better screening and earlier detection, the death rate for colorectal cancer—cancer that starts in the colon or rectum—continues to drop for both men and women.

However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), colorectal cancer is still the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths that affect both men and women in the United States.

Colon cancer remains the third most common cancer among both men and women, and the American Cancer Society estimates that there will still be over 100,000 new cases diagnosed in the United States this year. In fact, a recent study found that colon cancer incidence rates are actually increasing among young adults. This is just another reason why adults of all ages—not just those over 50 years old—should do what they can to prevent colorectal cancer.

Many cases of colorectal cancer could be avoided by taking simple preventative measures. Lower your risk of developing colon cancer by following these steps:

  • Exercise regularly.
    Even small amounts of exercise on a regular basis can lower your risk of developing colorectal cancer.
  • Eat a healthy diet full of high-fiber foods.
    Studies have found that diets high in fruits, vegetables, and other high-fiber foods like whole-grains can reduce your risk for colon cancer.
  • Cut out red and processed meats.
    Meats that are red when raw—such as beef, pork or lamb—as well as processed meats—like hot dogs, bacon, and sausage—have been linked to colorectal cancer. Try to limit your intake of red meat and avoid processed meat whenever possible.
  • Limit your alcohol intake.
    Lower your risk of colorectal cancer by limiting your consumption of alcohol to two drinks per day for men or one drink per day for women.
  • Don’t smoke.
    Smoking increases your risk of developing colorectal cancer, among other diseases. You also have a higher chance of colon cancer recurrence if you smoke. Quitting smoking will greatly improve your overall health as well as lower your risk of developing colorectal cancer.

The best step you can take to protect yourself against colorectal cancer is to get regular screenings, such as a colonoscopy. The experts at El Camino Health recommend getting a colonoscopy at the age of 50—or earlier if you have a family history of colorectal disease. Participate in National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month this March by asking your doctor about your screening recommendations. If you need help finding a doctor, click here or call 408-540-6645 for a referral.


This article first appeared in the March 2019 edition of the HealthPerks newsletter.

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