March is colon cancer awareness month! Here is EXACTLY what you need to do to protect yourself.

that's me bottom left!

that's me bottom left!

1. Get a screening colonoscopy at age 50 or earlier if you have symptoms or are at increased risk

Although there are other options for screening, colonoscopy is the only modality that evaluates the entire colon and can remove pre-cancerous polyps, preventing colon cancer.

WHAT puts you at increased risk, exactly?

1. Hereditary cancer syndrome

2. Personal or family history of colon cancer or colon polyps? (did anyone in your family have colon cancer, or OTHER types cancers? tell your doctor)

3. Inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis)

4. History of abdominal radiation

5. African Americans have the highest CRC rates of all ethnic groups in the US. If you are African American, consider starting screening at age 45.

2. Decrease your risk factors

- Lose weightObesity is a risk factor for colorectal cancer

Avoid diabetes and developing insulin resistance! If you already have diabetes or pre-diabetes, make sure you are optimizing your sugar management. 

- Minimize your red meat and processed meat intakeRed meat or processed meat appear to be associated with an increased risk of colon cancer, particularly on the left side of the colon. Barbecuing or pan-frying at high temperatures has been found to contribute to the risk, as  carcinogens are produced from the proteins in the charring process. 

- Stop smokingCigarette smoking is significantly association with colon cancer and mortality

Elena Ivanina