Colon cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer in the US. More than 130,000 Americans are diagnosed with colon cancer each year and nearly half of colon cancer patients eventually die from the disease because of late diagnosis.
Fortunately, colon cancer is also one of the most preventable forms of cancer. Although some people are genetically predisposed to developing colon cancer, there are things that you can do to reduce your chance of getting it. Here are some best ways to prevent colon cancer:
1. Get screened
Getting regular screening tests for colon cancer is an excellent way to protect yourself from the disease. It can help prevent the disease by finding abnormal growths called polyps that can be removed before they turn into cancer.
Most people should start screening at age 50. Though, some guidelines recommend at age 45. People with a family history of colon cancer or other important risk factors may begin testing even younger and get tested more often. Talk to your doctor about when you should start and which tests might be right for you.
2. Exercise regularly
Research suggests that regular exercise can reduce colon cancer risk by as much as 40 percent. According to a study conducted at Washington University, walking 30 minutes a day can greatly reduce the risk of colon cancer. Exercise also tends to reduce the incidence of other risk factors for colon cancer, such as diabetes and obesity.
3. Maintain a healthy weight
Being overweight or obese increases the risk of colon cancer in both men and women. Studies also indicate that having an apple-shaped body, where fat is concentrated in the abdominal area, is at higher risk of colorectal cancer.
If you are overweight, losing weight can help reduce your risk of developing colon cancer. This can be achieved through a combination of a healthy diet and regular exercise.
4. Get enough calcium and vitamin D
Getting enough calcium and vitamin D can greatly reduce the risk of developing colon cancer. Calcium can protect high-risk people from developing polyps that could lead to colon cancer, and vitamin D is associated with a reduced risk for colon cancer as it helps the body absorb calcium.
The advisable intake per day is 1,000 to 1,200 milligrams of calcium and about 1,000 international units (IU) of vitamin D. You can get the recommended daily amount of calcium by eating dairy products, broccoli, kale, or spinach; and vitamin D, like milk, fatty fish, egg yolks or fortified foods.
5. Limit the amount of red and processed meats you eat
Eating too much red and processed meats, like steak, bacon, ham, sausages and pork, may increase the risk of colon cancer. So, try to eat no more than three servings each week. Less is even better.
6. Limit alcohol intake
Excess drinking of alcohol has been linked to the formation of colon tumor. So, by avoiding or limiting your alcohol consumption may help reduce your risk.
To drink in moderation, limit your alcohol consumption to no more than two drinks a day for adult men and no more than one drink a day for adult women.
7. Quit smoking
If you smoke, you are more likely to develop not only lung cancer, but also other cancers, including colorectal, stomach and esophageal cancer.
Smoking increases your risk for two main reasons. First, inhaled or swallowed tobacco smoke transports carcinogens to the colon. Second, tobacco use appears to increase polyp size.
Read also: 9 best tips to help you quit smoking