The most persuasive argument for appropriate screening measures is that screening can prevent cancer by removing pre-cancerous poylps. This thinking will always be front and center, and we will continue to urge everyone to get screened. However, there are additional ways to prevent the second leading cause of all cancer deaths in both men and women.
- Visit doctor if you detect any colon cancer symptoms: In the early stages of colon cancer, there aren’t too many signs that actually reveal that you have cancer. But when your body begins to talk, you must listen. Signs, such as thin stools, cramping, unexplained weight loss and/or bloody stool, are indicators that you might already be in the latter stages of colon cancer, so do not wait. Visit your doctor immediately.
- If you are 50 and older, schedule a colon cancer screening: The colonoscopy procedure sucks, we know, but in the long run, it can actually save your life. Statistics show that over 90 percent of people diagnosed with colon cancer are at least 50 and over, with the average age of diagnosis being 64. Research has also shown that by age 50, one in four people has polyps (colon cancer precursors), so getting screened is an excellent way to stop the enemy before it even gets started. As Dr. Lane simply puts it in regards to getting screened, “It’s two days of horrible and then you have a peace of mind as opposed to having a lifetime of horrible. It’s shocking to me how preventable it is yet how common it is.”
- Eat a balanced diet: Think of food as fuel for your body; what you put into it is what you will get out of it. Stay away from consistently eating foods that are high in fat and cholesterol. Those types of food have been linked to increased colon cancer risks. Instead, try some of our Monday Motivation Meals (Mmm…).
- Maintain a healthy weight: Did you know that obese men are more at risk for colon cancer than obese women? The key is to stay away from obesity, period. Studies indicate that certain body shapes may or may not increase the risk of colon cancer. For instance, apple shaped persons (additional fat in the waist) are at a higher risk of colon cancer than the pear-shaped bodies (extra fat in the thighs and hips).
- Maintain an active lifestyle: Research shows that routinely exercising can help decrease the risk of being diagnosed with colon cancer by almost 40 percent. Exercising also helps you reduce your risk of colon cancer’s other main risk factors, such as obesity and diabetes. Our W.O.W.s help with staying active.
- Consider genetic counseling: Take the time to go find out just what exactly makes up your genes. People who carry genetic mutations that are linked to hereditary colon cancer will more likely develop the disease.
- Learn your family medical history: Know who, or if, anyone in your family has had colon cancer or other related cancers, such as stomach, liver and bone. Make sure to mention the fact that these cancers run in your family, so that you can get a head start on colon cancer prevention. In some cases, a colonoscopy is suggested for those under 50 who have had a family member develop the disease.
- Talk to the doctor about your personal medical history: Be sure to let your doctor know your entire medical history. Sometimes, we as patients are afraid to tell the doctor if something is wrong because of its potential to lead to extra tests, shots, or medicines that may occur from what has happened in the past. Full clarity with you and your doctor is the key to success.
- Don’t smoke: Smoking can increase your risk of colon cancer for two reasons. First, inhaling or swallowing tobacco smoke transports carcinogens to the colon. Secondly, tobacco use has been proven to increase the sizes of polyps.
- Reduce your exposure to radiation: This one might raise a few eyebrows, but, yes, decreased radiation exposure plays a major key in colon cancer prevention.
Follow these steps, and “Together, Let’s Kiel* Colon Cancer!”