Colorectal cancer is among the most common cancers in the United States, yet it doesn’t get the same attention and awareness as other cancer types. Also called colon cancer or rectal cancer, colorectal cancer starts in the colon or rectum location at the end of the digestive tract. These cancer types are often grouped together because of the many similar features they share.
This National Colorectal Cancer month, all of us at Astera Cancer Care want to highlight the importance of colorectal health and educate others on how simple lifestyle changes can help lessen your risk for developing colorectal cancer.
Screenings are tests that look for any signs of cancer before symptoms develop to ensure an early diagnosis and quick treatment if cancer is present. During colon and rectal screenings, doctors look for polyps, or abnormal growths, in the area that can turn into cancer. These tests would include colonoscopies, fecal occult blood tests, and more. If any polyps are found, they can be safely removed to protect your colorectal health and keep you cancer-free.
People who have smoked for a long time are much more likely to develop colorectal cancer in their lifetime than those who have never picked up a cigarette. So if you smoke, now is the time to quit. If you know someone who smokes, speak with them about quitting. And if you don’t smoke, don’t start!
Heavy alcohol use has been linked to an increased risk for colorectal cancer. Of course, it is best not to drink alcohol at all, but for those who do enjoy drinking alcohol, it is recommended to limit consumption to 2 drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women.
Those who are not physically active can have a heightened risk for developing colorectal cancer as opposed to those who are. Finding exercises that you enjoy can help you maintain a regular physical activity routine to protect your overall and colorectal health.
Eating foods that are nutritious and loaded with various vitamins and minerals can help improve your overall well-being as well as your colorectal health. For example, those with a diet consisting of plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains typically have better overall colorectal health. It is also recommended to eat fewer red meats, such as beef, pork, or lamb, and processed meats to help protect yourself from colorectal cancer.
Being overweight or obese can leave you more vulnerable to developing colorectal cancer than any other lifestyle factor other than smoking. Through the help of diet and exercise and speaking with your doctor, determine a plan to help you control your weight.
Getting the minimum recommended amount of calcium and vitamin D could help protect yourself against colorectal cancer. Ensuring you meet the suggested quantity of these vitamins and minerals can come from food, drink, sunlight, and supplements. Speak with your doctor about what methods are best for you and your health to ensure your calcium and vitamin D levels are where they need to be.