Colon cancer is one of the more common cancers in the US. About 1 in 20 Americans will develop colon cancer at some point during their lifetime.
But there are things you can do to help lower your colon cancer risk.
Here are 6 ways to help protect your colon health.
Get screened for colon cancer. Screenings are tests that look for cancer before signs and symptoms develop.
Colon screenings can often find growths called polyps that can be removed before they turn into cancer. These tests also can find colon cancer earlier, when treatments are more likely to be successful.
The American Cancer Society recommends testing starting at age 50 for most people; talk to your doctor about when you should start and which tests might be right for you.
Eat lots of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Diets that include lots of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains have been linked with a decreased risk of colon cancer.
Eat less red meat (beef, pork, or lamb) and processed meats (hot dogs and some luncheon meats), which have been linked with an increased risk of colon cancer.
Get regular exercise. If you are not physically active, you have a greater chance of developing colon cancer. Increasing your activity may help reduce your risk. Learn more about how to meet diet and exercise goals at cancer.org/foodandfitness.
Watch your weight. Being overweight or obese increases your risk of getting and dying from colon cancer. Eating healthier and increasing your physical activity can help you control your weight.
Don’t smoke. Long-term smokers are more likely than non-smokers to develop and die from colon cancer.
If you smoke and you want to quit, or know someone else who does, see the American Cancer Society Guide to Quitting Smoking, or call us at 1-800-227-2345. Getting help increases your chances of quitting successfully.
Limit alcohol. Colon cancer has been linked to heavy drinking. The American Cancer Society recommends no more than 2 drinks a day for men and 1 drink a day for women. A single drink amounts to 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1½ ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits (hard liquor).
Changing some of these lifestyle habits can also lower the risk for many other types of cancer, as well as other serious diseases like heart disease and diabetes.
The links between diet, weight, and exercise and colon cancer risk are some of the strongest for any type of cancer.
News source: ACS. The content is edited for length and style purposes.
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