4 Tips to Lower Your Colon Cancer Risk
Though colon cancer isn’t typically associated with younger people, there has been a rise in colon cancer diagnosis among young people. New cases of colon cancer in adults under 55 have increased almost two percent yearly since the mid-1990s. Deaths from colon cancer in this group are also rising, despite colonoscopies becoming more common.
There is no known cause for the increase in colon cancer among younger people. Research is ongoing to determine a cause for the rise in cases. Rising obesity rates and dietary trends may contribute to the increase.
Even if you are a young person, you need to be aware of the threat of colon cancer. Here are four tips on how to protect yourself against colon cancer.
1. Get Screened
You may feel like you are invincible in your twenties, but you should still take your health seriously. This includes developing a relationship with a gastroenterologist who can advise you about any symptoms you develop and when you should start colon cancer screening.
The American Cancer Society advises colon cancer screening begin at 45. If you have risk factors that make you more likely to develop colon cancer, your gastroenterologist may recommend that you begin screening sooner.
2. Stay Observant of Symptoms
Not everyone with colon cancer has the same symptoms. Many with early stage colon cancer have no symptoms. If you have any bowel changes along with rectal bleeding, see your gastroenterologist as soon as possible. These changes include:
- Blood in stool
- Belly pain or other blockage symptoms
3. Understand You Risk and Know Your Family History
Colon cancer is easiest to treat when it’s in its early stages, but many with early-stage colon cancer have no symptoms. This is why it’s important to identify if any risk factors apply to you. Risk factors include those you can change and those you can’t. Risk factors you can’t change are your racial or ethnic background or your medical history. Risk factors you can change are physical inactivity or eating a lot of red meat.
It’s also important to know about your family history. Though most colon cancer is found in those without a family history of it, as many as a third of those who develop colon cancer have family members who have had it.
Earlier screening (which can not only detect but prevent colon cancer) may be advised for younger people with risk factors. Your gastroenterologist can help you assess your risk.
4. Make Lifestyle Changes
If you don’t already, eat a healthy diet, exercise, and stop smoking.
High-fiber foods, like fresh fruits and vegetables, and regular exercise keep your colon healthy. Reduce your consumption of red meats and processed foods. If you smoke, quit.
Do you have a family history of colon cancer or risk factors that concern you? Are you ready for your first colonoscopy or due for your next? Make an appointment today.