3 Steps To Reduce Your Risk of Colon Cancer As You Age
Posted: 3/7/2022 11:43 AM by
There’s no doubt about it, cancer is scary. Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths–but it doesn’t have to be. It’s one of the few cancers that can be prevented through screening. Colon cancer preventable, treatable, and beatable. But, it’s up to you to take charge of your health and take the steps to reduce your risk.
Step 1: Determine if you are at risk for colon cancer
Here’s the good news: more than half of colon cancer risk factors are ones that you can control.
The American Cancer Society says the controllable risk factors include:
● Excess body weight
● Not being physically active
● Drinking alcohol
● Eating a diet with lots of red or processed meat
● Not eating a diet with enough fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
It’s just as important to be aware of the risk factors you can’t control, which are:
● Your age
● Having a personal family history of colorectal polyps
● Having inflammatory bowel disease, certain hereditary syndromes, or type 2 diabetes
● Your race and ethnicity–African American individuals and people of Ashkenazi Jewish descent are at higher risk for colorectal cancer
Step 2: Of the risk factors you can control, learn how to reduce your risk
How many times have you heard this advice? Lose weight, exercise, quit smoking, and drinking, and eat a balanced diet…following this lifestyle will not only reduce your risk of colon cancer but many other diseases and health problems, as well. If any of these risk factors apply to you, be sure to work with your doctor to help manage them.
Step 3: Get screened early and often (according to your doctor’s recommendations)
Now that you know you can’t reduce certain risk factors such as your age, family history, race, or ethnicity, it’s even more important to get regular screenings for colon cancer.
What kind of screenings are available?
Although there are varying kinds of screenings, the most important thing is to get screened, no matter which kind you end up getting. There are stool-based tests, or visual exams of the colon and rectum, usually performed by a colonoscopy, CT colonography, or flexible sigmoidoscopy. It’s very important to talk to your doctor about your risk factors and when you should start getting
According to the CDC, screening tests help find precancerous polyps (abnormal growths) so they can be removed before they turn into cancer. This prevents colorectal cancer. Screening also can find this cancer early, when treatment works best. The American Cancer Society recommends the following for people at average risk for colorectal cancer:
● Men and women should start regular screening at age 45
● People who are in good health should continue regular colorectal cancer screening through the age of 75
● People ages 76 through 85 should talk to their doctor about whether to be screened based on their preferences, life expectancy, overall health, and screening history
● People over age 85 should no longer get colorectal cancer screening
● People at high risk of colorectal cancer based on family or personal history or other factors may need to start screening before age 45
Even if you’re between the ages of 45 and 75 and have never been screened for colon cancer, it’s never too late. Most colon cancers do not cause symptoms right away, so it’s vital for your health to get screened as soon as possible.
The “bottom” line…
We know that the idea of colon screening of any kind is uncomfortable. The prep for a colonoscopy isn’t fun, and the procedure itself can seem awkward. But the truth is, it could save your life. Follow these steps and take time today to schedule an appointment with your doctor or to schedule your next screening!