10 Effective Ways to Prevent Colon Cancer (Infographic)

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In the United States, colon cancer is the third most diagnosed cancer and is the second leading cause of death in both men and women. In the last decade, colon cancer rates have continued to fall due to awareness through colonoscopies and screenings. At Greene County Medical Center, our staff is dedicated to providing the education and services necessary to prevent you and your loved ones from getting colon cancer. Learn how you can be one step closer to living a cancer-free life through these 10 prevention tactics.

1. Get Screened. Getting screened can be one of the most powerful weapons when preventing colon cancer. From the time that abnormal cells begin to mature into polyps, it is estimated they will take around 10-15 years to fully develop and expand into colon cancer. With regular screenings, you can prevent colon cancer altogether. Screening options include:

  • Colonoscopy
  • CT colonography 
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy
  • Double contrast barium enema 
  • Fecal immunochemical test

2. Appreciate the Age Factor. Your age tends to play a large role in the development of colon cancer. Over 90% of cases occur in people over 50 years old - the median age of colon cancer diagnosis is 69 in men and 73 in women. In recent years, however, rates for colon cancer in adults 50 and older have been declining while rates in adults younger than 50 years are increasing. Early detection is key.

3. Know Your Family History. Those who have family history of colon cancer are 2 to 3 times more susceptible to developing the disease compared to those who don’t. With that, those who do have a family history of colon cancer are associated with better disease survival rates, possibly due to increased awareness and earlier detection

4. Don’t Smoke. Smoking plays a large part in the development of lung cancer and heart attacks and could also be a cause of colon cancer. Even after you account for other risk factors such as body mass index, race and family history, long-term cigarette smoking substantially increases your risk. Those who smoke for 40 years or longer and do not quit before the age of 40 have a 30% to 50% higher risk of developing colon cancer.

5. Drink in Moderation. If you choose to drink, it is important to limit your alcohol intake to small amounts. Those who average 2 to 4 alcoholic drinks per day over their lifetime have a 23% higher risk of developing colon cancer than those who consume 1 drink or less per day.

6. Maintain a Healthy Weight. Working to maintain a steady weight through a healthy diet and regular exercise is crucial. Being obese or overweight is associated with higher colon cancer rates. If you need to lose weight, speak to your primary care provider about beneficial ways to reach this goal.

7. Exercise. One of the most frequently reported factors correlated to colon cancer is physical inactivity. By being physically active, you are at a 25 percent lower risk of developing colon cancer compared to those who are not active. It is crucial to try to fit in at least 30 minutes of daily exercise to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

8. Eat Healthy. By maintaining a healthy lifestyle, you are one step closer to preventing colon cancer. Studies show that diet and lifestyle choices impact the occurrence of colon cancer. Though research is still expanding on the role of specific dietary elements associated with colon cancer, current information suggests that:

  • Moderate amounts of daily fruits and vegetables is marginally protective against colon cancer. 
  • Greater amounts of dairy products that include calcium decreases the risk of developing colon cancer. 
  • Dietary fiber, whole grains and cereal fiber are associated with a decreased risk of colon cancer. 

9. Limit Red Meat. According to the American Cancer Society, diets that are high in red meat and processed meats have been associated with colon cancer. Cut heavily processed, salted and cured meats out of your diet and limit red meat to lean cuts with trimmed fat.

10. Get More Vitamin D. As stated by the National Cancer Institute, studies suggest higher intakes of Vitamin D are associated with lower risks of colon cancer. Vitamin D helps the body use phosphorus and calcium to make strong teeth and bones. The most effective way to get healthy doses of Vitamin D is through limited sun exposure and dietary sources including milk, juices, eggs, breakfast cereals and dietary supplements.

At Greene County Medical Center, our top priority is making sure you and your loved ones are happy and healthy. By following these 10 prevention tactics, you are one step closer to maintaining a cancer-free lifestyle. Death rates due to colon cancer continue to drop thanks to regular screenings and increased awareness. Set up an appointment today at Greene County Medical Center to get your colonoscopy.