Colorectal Cancer Prevention/Healthy Behaviors
It is estimated that at least 50% to 60% of colorectal cancer deaths could be prevented if all men and women aged 50 years or older were screened routinely. Colorectal cancer screening can find and remove precancerous polyps also known as adenomas or adenomatous polyps, and early-stage cancer. Precancerous polyps or growths can be present in the colon for years before invasive cancer develops. When polyps are removed, cancer is prevented. And when colorectal cancer is found early, treatment can be more effective.
Some studies suggest that people with certain risk factors are more likely than others to develop colorectal cancer. A risk factor is something that may increase the chance of developing a disease. Risk factors that are associated with colorectal cancer include being overweight, lack of exercise, tobacco use, alcohol consumption, frequently eating red meats, and fried foods.
Individuals may reduce their risk of developing colorectal cancer by increasing physical activity, eating fruits and vegetables, avoiding tobacco, limiting alcohol consumption, and getting screened.
National guidelines recommend that screening for colorectal cancer begin at age 50 years and continuing until age 75 years. Screening for colorectal cancer can detect polyps early, improve treatment options, and prevent colorectal cancer deaths. If you are age 50 or older you should ask your doctor about colorectal cancer screening to determine what test is right for you.
Personal medical history or family history are important risk factors which increase a person's chance of developing colorectal cancer and this information should be shared with your health care provider. If you, your father, mother, sister or brother has had colorectal cancer or a history of polyps, then you are at an increased risk for colorectal cancer and should consult you doctor to see if screening at an earlier age is recommended.
Increase physical activity.
Many studies have found that adults who increase their physical activity, either exercising longer or more often, can reduce their risk of developing colon cancer by 30 to 40 percent. Maintaining a healthy weight and exercising most days of the week can also reduce your risk. Also see the National Cancer Institute Fact Sheet Physical Activity and Cancer: Questions and Answers at www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/physical-activity-qa
Eating fruits and vegetables.
Research shows that people who eat foods that are high in fiber and lower in fat can reduce the risk for colorectal cancer. Ways to improve your diet and reduce your risk include increasing your consumption of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and limiting your intake of fried or high fat foods. Additionally, eating foods from plant sources, such as beans and legumes in place of red meat several times per week can also reduce your risk.
Fruits and vegetables contain essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber that may help protect you from chronic diseases. Any fruit or vegetable: frozen, fresh, canned, dried fruit, or juice counts toward a serving. Refer to the Food Guide Pyramid for recommended serving sizes of fruits and vegetables. CDC's Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity supports states by offering programs like the Fruits and Veggies - More Matters program, which encourages people to eat more fruits and vegetables.
Limit alcohol consumption.
Drinking alcoholic beverages may increase the risk of colorectal cancer.
It's good to be tobacco free! Use of tobacco products also increases the risk of colorectal cancer, therefore it is best to not use tobacco products, quit if you use tobacco products, and avoid being around others who are smoking. The Florida Quitline offers free, confidential, comprehensive telephone counseling to help you quit smoking or chewing tobacco. Call the Florida Quit-For-Life Line at 1-877-U-CAN-NOW (1-877-822-6669). Begin your journey to a tobacco free lifestyle today by visiting the Florida Quitline Web Coach at www.quitnow.net/florida/
To assess your risk go to understandingrisk.cancer.gov/a_Colon/02.cfm to see how your diet, exercise, and lifestyle may affect your risk.