9 Proven Ways To Prevent Colon Cancer
It’s National Colon Cancer Awareness Month and so we want to talk about colon cancer and how you can prevent it.
Colon cancer is cancer of the final part of your intestines, called the colon. First, noncancerous growths occur in your colon, called polyps. These can eventually become cancerous at which point they are very dangerous.
Colon cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosis and the second leading cause of death by cancer.
All in all, colon cancer is a worrisome diagnosis but there’s also a lot of good news surrounding colon cancer too.
According to a 2017 report on trends in the United States from 1974 to 2013, rates of colon cancer have been steadily declining.
This is good news!
In 2003 the rate of decline actually accelerated to 3 percent annually. This decline in colon cancer is largely due to better screening and prevention.
However, there is one group of people that colon cancer is not declining in – it’s on the rise in young people.
Colon Cancer is on the Rise in Young People
Here are a few fast facts about colon cancer:
- Colon cancer affects men and women equally, despite what you may have heard.
- Though colon cancer is declining, its on the rise among young people – mainly generation X and Millennials.
- Anyone born around 1990 has double the risk of developing colon cancer and quadruple the risk of developing rectal cancer.
- Doctors are calling the rise in colon cancer among young people, “a return to the 19th century.”
This is a warning to all people between the ages 20 and 39, to clean up their diet and pay attention to other preventative measures.
Get a Colonoscopy
Since all cancer comes from colon polyps, getting a colonoscopy is your best chance of preventing colon cancer. People over the age of 50 should have a colonoscopy by a trained, board certified gastroenterologist.
Also, those at risk for colon cancer should also get a colonoscopy, even before the age of 50. Talk with your doctor about the risks and when the screenings should begin.
Once you have had your screening colon, follow these 9 proven ways to prevent colon cancer.
9 Science-Backed Ways to Prevent Colon Cancer
Colon cancer is often preventable. In fact, the American Institute for Cancer Research estimates that 47 percent of all colon cancers are preventable.
So, what can you do to prevent colon cancer?
Here are nine science-backed ways to prevent colon cancer:
- Get more calcium and vitamin D – Calcium and vitamin D is critical to keeping your whole body healthy and cancer free. In a study of 1,179 postmenopausal woman, researchers found that supplementing with calcium and 1100 IU of vitamin D3, had a significant decrease in risk of cancer overall.
- Eat more fiber – Scientists at Harvard Medical School found that for every five grams of fiber someone eats, they have a 22 percent less likely chance of dying from colon cancer. This is a good reason to eat more high-fiber vegetables like black beans, lentils, artichokes, and broccoli.
- Get enough exercise – A meta-analysis of nearly 170 studies found exercise significantly reduces the risk of developing colon cancer. Make sure you get 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise five days a week to benefit from these scientific findings.
- Eat vegetables that prevent polyps – Vegetables that are capable of preventing polyps are high in sulforaphane, N-acetylcysteine, and quercetin. These include onions, broccoli, and red peppers.
- Understanding the differences in meat – You’ll often find avoiding red meat on many lists for preventing cancer but it actually matters where that meat comes from and how it’s raised. Red meat when it’s raised the way it should be – on a grass pasture – and without antibiotics and growth hormones, isn’t bad for you. However, grain-fed, conventionally farmed meat that’s overly processed, is bad for you and increases your chance of developing colon cancer.
- Make sure you’re getting enough vitamin A – For years, researchers have known that retinoic acid, a form of vitamin A, is effective in promoting good gut health and reducing inflammation of the gut. The benefits if vitamin A go a step further when it comes to preventing colon cancer from recurring.
A 2015 study found that vitamin A can help keep colon cancer away after chemotherapy through reversing the block of a protein called HOXA5.
This protein helps your stem cells decided what they will turn into and whether they will be healthy or cancerous. When HOXA5 is blocked, colon cancer cells are more likely to come back.
Vitamin A is effective at allowing HOXA5 to do its job and keep colon cancer away.
- Drink less alcohol – Alcohol intake is strongly associated with colon cancer. The American Cancer Society even recommends reducing your alcohol consumption significantly if you have other factors that put you at a higher risk for developing colon cancer, such as genetic predisposition. Even a few drinks each week are enough to significantly increase your risk of colon cancer.
- Quit smoking – Smoking is a well established colon cancer risk. If you smoke, you are more likely to develop not only colon cancer, but many other cancers and diseases. Your risk for colon cancer gets worse as you age, so the earlier you quit the better.
- Maintain a healthy weight – Being overweight increases the risk of many diseases, including colon cancer. One study found that for every 11 pounds overweight a person is, there is an associated increase in risk for liver, ovarian, breast, and colon cancers. Specifically, there was a 10 percent increased risk for developing colon cancer for each 11 pound weight increase beyond a healthy body mass index (BMI).
Remember, nearly half of all colon cancers are preventable.
Plus, every step to preventing colon cancer are tips for a healthier life that anyone would benefit from.