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Healthy Habits That Lower Your Risk of Colon Cancer

According to the American Cancer Society, 1 in 23 men will develop colon cancer in their lifetime. The numbers are slightly lower in women (1 in 25). Colon cancer is most common in adults over the age of 50, but it is growing more common under the age of 50.

The chances of recovering from colon cancer are excellent when it’s found early — before it has a chance to spread to other areas. If it spreads, it becomes more difficult to treat.

Doctors don’t know exactly what causes colon cancer. But research has shown that some lifestyle choices create a higher risk. We do know that certain lifestyle habits, including early screening, can help prevent colon cancer.

Early Screening

Experts agree that early screening is the most important step to take to prevent colon cancer. The goal is to prevent cancer before it happens. Screening can often find abnormalities, like polyps, that may turn into cancer if left alone. Removing those polyps means they can’t become cancerous.

Colon cancer often doesn’t have any symptoms at first. That’s why catching trouble before it starts is so important. Catching issues early — before they have a chance to turn into cancer — can significantly improve the outcome.

Most experts recommend getting screened starting at age 45 or 50. Some people may have a higher risk of colon cancer because of family history or other factors. They may need testing earlier. Talk to your doctor about the right timing and type of screening for you.

Healthy diet

A healthy diet of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein helps your entire body stay healthy. It has also been linked to a lower risk of many cancers, including colon cancer. Avoiding red meat and processed meats is also key, as both have been linked to a greater risk of colon cancer. Better choices are chicken, turkey, or fish. Other good sources of protein are low-fat dairy, beans, and eggs.

Regular exercise

Regular exercise can also help protect you from colon cancer (and many other diseases). Most experts recommend at least 30 minutes of exercise almost every day. It doesn’t have to be intense or in a gym; a brisk walk outside is a great choice.

Maintain a healthy weight

A healthy weight is also important in preventing cancer. People who are overweight have a higher risk of developing cancer than others. A healthy diet and regular exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight. A good general guideline is to maintain a healthy BMI, but your doctor can help you set personal goals if you want to lose weight.

Limit alcohol

The alcohol we drink is broken down into a chemical that damages cells, which can grow into tumors. Alcohol is especially linked to colon cancer. The more you drink, the higher the risk. If you drink alcohol, the CDC recommends limiting drinks to one (women) or two (men) per day.

Stop smoking

Smoking harms nearly all of your body systems. Quitting is one of the most important steps you can take to prevent colon cancer. Smoking also causes many other cancers and chronic health issues. If you smoke, quit. Smokefree.gov has tools and resources that can help.

The best treatment for colon cancer is prevention. You can help prevent colon cancer by making healthy lifestyle choices every day and getting the screening your doctor recommends. Request an appointment today to discuss screening.

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