Colorectal cancer is fairly common in the United States. It’s estimated that about 1 in 25 adults will develop either colon or rectal cancer during their lifetime, and we all want to minimize those kinds of risks as much as we can. While there isn’t any sure fire way to prevent colorectal cancer, we have our top eight tips on how to lower your risk as much as you can.
- Get screened. Colonoscopies are not anybody’s favorite thing to do, but regular colorectal cancer screenings are the best tool you have to lower your cancer risk. This is because abnormal cells in your colon can start to grow into something called polyps 10-15 years before they ever turn into cancer. If you get regular colonoscopies, these polyps can be removed before they can ever turn into cancer.
- Exercise. Exercise is great for your health in general, but there are studies linking more exercise specifically to a lower risk of colorectal cancer and polyps. Aim for 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise each week. If that seems overwhelming, start small with your amount of exercise and try to limit the time you spend sitting and laying down.
- Eat healthy. We probably all know that we need to eat healthier, but oftentimes, it’s easier said than done. Eating healthy is another great tool in your toolbelt for lowering your risk of colorectal cancer though, and it can have big impacts in other aspects of your health. You specifically want to make sure you’re eating less red meats (like beef, pork, and lamb) and processed meats (like hot dogs, lunch meat, sausage, etc.) as both of these have been linked to an increased risk of colorectal cancer.
- Control your weight. This tip goes hand in hand with the previous two. If you can exercise more and eat more healthy, controlling your weight should come naturally. This will also help lower your risk of colorectal cancer as being overweight or obese has been linked to a higher risk, especially in men.
- Don’t smoke. Not only does smoking increase your risk of colorectal cancer, it also increases your risk of lung cancer and other cancers, heart disease, heart attack and stroke, and other respiratory issues. Quitting smoking is one of the biggest ways you can make a positive impact on your overall health.
- Limit alcohol. Limiting alcohol or cutting it out entirely can help lower your risk of colorectal cancer, as an increased link between the two has been found, especially in men. If you do continue drinking, you shouldn’t drink more that one drink a day as a woman or two drinks a day as a man.
- Take vitamins. There is some evidence to suggest that low levels of vitamin D and calcium may be linked to colorectal cancer, but more research needs to be done in this area. Talk to your doctor about whether or not adding in these supplements is right for you.
- Take hormone replacement therapy. If you’re a woman, there is some evidence to suggest that taking estrogen or progesterone after menopause can reduce your risk of developing colorectal cancer. As with anything, there are advantages and disadvantages to hormone replacement therapy, so talk to your doctor about whether or not it’s right for you specifically.
For more information, schedule an appointment with your primary care provider today. The providers at OneSource Healthcare are here to help. Call us at 229-439-1950 (Albany) or 229-246-6417 (Bainbridge) today to schedule an appointment.