The End of the Matter

Colorectal cancer is a leading cause of death. Take steps to reduce your risk.

It’s not an area of the body that is pleasant to discuss. At the end of your digestive tract are your colon and rectum, which are responsible for removing water, salt, and nutrients from stool and storing it until it’s passed out of the body. Not something to take lightly, colorectal cancer is the third most common non-skin cancer in the world. It’s also one of the top five causes of death. But unlike cancers with unknown causes and unknown ways of prevention, there are known ways to reduce your risk of developing many kinds of colorectal cancer.

In fact, your lifestyle may have more of an impact on colorectal cancer than any other type of cancer.

To learn seven simple ways to live a longer, healthier life without colorectal cancer, keep running.

Get Screened

When abnormal cells find their way into the large intestine or rectum, they form polyps. It can then take up to 15 years for the polyps to become cancerous. This timeframe provides ample opportunity to catch the cancer before it’s too late. Regular screenings are your most powerful preventative measure against colorectal cancer. Starting at age 50 and then every five years after that, adults with an average risk of colorectal cancer should be screened. Talk with your physician about which method of screening is right for you.

Have Genetic Counseling

One out of five people with colorectal cancer has a family member who has had it as well. Those with a family history of polyps or colorectal cancer may benefit from genetic counseling. A genetic predisposition for colorectal cancer is a reason to get screened at an earlier age, more frequently, or to even have surgery if necessary. The earlier the cancer is detected, the better your chance of successful treatment.

Eat Right

The food you eat makes its way down your digestive tract to your colon. Eating a diet high in fiber is associated with a lower risk of colon cancer, since fiber is non-digestible and therefore helps keep things moving and cleans things out.

Fiber-rich foods include fruits, vegetables, beans, seeds, and whole grains. Fiber supplements may help keep you regular, but they don’t provide the same protection against cancer as food.

While high-fiber foods are good for your colon, red meat (beef, lamb, and pork) and processed meats (those preserved with sodium nitrite) actually increase your risk of colorectal cancer.

Start Moving

People with a sedentary lifestyle are at a greater risk for this type of cancer. Protect yourself against cancer—especially colorectal cancer—by getting the recommended daily amount of physical activity. Studies have shown that the cancer-prevention benefits of exercise are independent of how much you weigh, so even if you don’t see the weight loss you desire, keep exercising! The benefits of exercise may be unseen for a time, but they will be seen eventually.

Obesity is strongly associated with colon cancer and increases your risk of dying from cancer. For every five points your BMI is above normal, your risk increases by 15 percent. Eat right and get the to exercise you need to lose excess weight and you’ll lower your risk for this very common killer.

Quit Smoking

It’s not just lung cancer you need to worry about if you smoke. Smoking increases your risk of almost every kind of cancer out there, including colorectal. So take the necessary measures today to quit the dangerous habit.

Drink in Moderation

Heavy drinkers are more likely to get cancer, including colorectal. The more you drink, the greater your risk. To stay in the safe zone, women should have no more than one drink a day and men no more than two.


Allan Alguire

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