Living a healthy lifestyle can prevent many illnesses in your life, including colon cancer. Avoiding smoking and drinking alcohol, eating more produce, and exercising more are a great way to live your life.
As with all diseases, prevention is the best medicine when it comes to colorectal cancer.
Colon cancer and rectal cancer, typically grouped together as colorectal cancer because they are both diseases of the large intestine, affect approximately 1 in 20 Americans.
Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in the United States (excluding skin cancers) and the second most common cause of cancer-related death, after lung cancer. The National Cancer Institute estimates that around 140,000 people in the United States will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer each year.
Effective prevention, therefore, has a huge potential to improve the health both of individuals and the public as a whole.
Here are the most powerful ways to prevent colon cancer and rectal cancer.
1. Stay at a Healthy Weight
Men and women who are overweight or obese are more likely to develop colorectal cancer.
The danger seems to be especially high for men, especially those who amass extra pounds around their midsection.
Rising obesity rates in the United States also seems to be linked to increasing rates of colorectal cancer among younger people.
A study published in October 2018 in the journal JAMA Oncology tracked the health of over 85,000 women for 22 years and found that the higher a woman’s body mass index (BMI), the greater her risk of developing colorectal cancer before age 50.
The study found that women ages 20 to 49 who were considered overweight or obese had up to twice the risk of developing early-onset colorectal cancer, compared with women who reported the lowest BMIs. (1)
2. Exercise More — the Harder, the Better
Regular, moderate exercise — exercise that slightly increases your heart rate — such as brisk walking, lowers the risk of colon cancer and rectal cancer.
But vigorous exercise appears to offer the biggest benefit.
A National Cancer Institute study of over 1.4 million people, published in June 2016 in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, found that higher levels of physical activity, compared with lower levels, were associated with a 16 percent lower risk of colon cancer and a 13 percent lower risk of rectal cancer. (2)
The American Cancer Society offers tools to help people who want to become more physically active, including a target-heart-rate calculator that helps you determine whether you are reaching workout goals.
3. Rethink Your Diet (Hint: Up Produce Intake)
Numerous studies have confirmed that diet plays a role in many colorectal cancers.
Eating red meat (beef and lamb) and certain processed meats (such as sausage and hot dogs) seem to raise colorectal cancer risk, so it makes sense to limit these foods. Diets that are high in fruits and vegetables seem to lower colon and rectal cancer risk. To prevent disease, up your intake of produce.
A number of large studies have suggested that dietary fiber can reduce colorectal cancer risk. Researchers are continuing to explore this connection.
4. Avoid Drinking Alcohol to Excess
Moderate to heavy alcohol use has been linked with a higher risk of cancers of the colon and rectum.
Evidence for this is generally stronger for men than women, but studies have found a connection in both sexes.
The American Cancer Society suggests limiting alcohol to two drinks a day for men and one for women. (3)
5. Don’t Pick Up a Cigarette
Most people know that cigarette smoking raises lung-cancer risk but are less aware of its connection to colon cancer and rectal cancer.
|Read on: How to Prevent Colon Cancer|