Colorectal cancer is the 3rd most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women in the U.S. Overall, the lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer is about 1 in 21 (4.7%) for men and 1 in 23 (4.4%) for women
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.
- Increased risk= hereditary cancer syndrome or personal/family history of colon cancer or colon polyps? (did anyone in your family have colon cancer, or other cancers? tell your doctor), inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis), history of abdominal radiation
2. Decrease your risk factors
- Lose weight! Obesity 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 intake! Red 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.
2. Increase your protective factors
- Exercise! Studies show a 26- 27% reduced risk of colon cancer when comparing the most vs the least active individuals.
- Eat your fruits & veggies and stay away from the "Western diet" foods! Studies show that total fruit and vegetable consumption was inversely association with colorectal cancer risk and the diet associated with the greatest increase in colon cancer risk is the Western-style diet.
- and to really drive the point home, FIBER!!!! Dietary fiber, particularly from grains and fruits, was associated with a decreased risk of colon adenomas (pre-cancerous polyps) and doubling your total fiber intake from foods could reduce the risk of colorectal cancer by 40%