A classic misconception is that only older people can get colon cancer, but it can occur at any age.
Based on recent reports, more and more young people in their 20s, 30s, and 40s are getting diagnosed with colon cancer.
That’s why it is now more important than ever to try and reduce your chances of getting colon cancer.
This comprehensive guide talks more about how to prevent colon cancer and recognize its causes and risk factors.
What is colon cancer?
Colon cancer is a disease. This disease causes cancer cells to form in the tissues of the colon.
The colon is a key component of the digestive system. The colon is roughly 5 feet long, which makes it the longest component of the large intestine.
When there is cancer present in the colon, the cells in the rectum or colon expand out of control. There can be a persistent change in bowel movement.
This includes symptoms such as constipation, diarrhea, blood in stool, misshapen feces, excess mucous in the stool, bloating, gas, etc.
Causes and risk factors
To know how to prevent colon cancer, you should be familiar with the causes and mitigate the potential risk factors.
Your chances of getting colon cancer increase with age and race. People of African-American descent are more likely to experience colon cancer.
Other risk factors for colon cancer include:
Genes can heighten your colon cancer risk, especially if there is someone in your family who had or has colon polyps or carcinoma.
Inflammatory bowel disease
Inflammation of the colon can trigger a constant turnover of cells, which amplifies the odds of irregularities that cause cancer, such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease.
Extra weight increases hormone levels and insulin in the blood, thus encouraging cancer growth.
Radiation exposure meant for treating previous cancers might increase the risk of colon cancer.
Both cohort and control studies show that type 2 diabetes enhances the lifetime risk of colon cancer by up to 3 times the risk of the general population.
Syndromes such as Lynch syndrome and familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) are known colon cancer risk factors.
How to prevent colon cancer
Is colon cancer preventable? According to experts, roughly 90% of colon carcinomas might be prevented.
Other than regular screenings, you should focus on maintaining healthy and well-balanced eating habits, having an active lifestyle, and dropping any harmful products that might increase your colon cancer risk.
Here are the top tips for preventing colon cancer supported by science.
1) Regular screening
Regular screenings can be a safeguard for people prone to colon cancer.
Harvard experts explain that colonoscopy is linked with a 69% drop in new cases of colon cancer and an 88% reduction in the risk of dying from it.
Colonoscopy screening can benefit people in two ways. First, it can detect and remove pre-cancerous polyps. Secondly, it can detect cancers in the early stage. This is the stage where cancer has the highest chance of being cured.
2) Get the polyps removed
Polyp removal during colonoscopy prevents colon cancer and can reduce mortality rates from the disease.
When you remove the colon polyp, you eliminate or decrease the chance for colon cancer to form.
3) Revamp your eating habits
You can reduce your risk of colon cancer by focusing on different dietary factors.
Although foods may not directly cause colon cancer, some foods can cause inflammation, which is a potential risk factor for the disease.
You need to supply the body with a balanced diet. The best diet for colon cancer prevention is one that’s packed with whole grains, nutrients, fruits, and veggies. It should include the least amount of processed or red meat.
The digestive system can benefit from more antioxidants and dietary fiber. A meta-analysis shows that for every 10g of fiber in your diet, the odds of colon carcinoma drop by around 10%.
Foods of plant origin are packed with antioxidants. Those with high levels of antioxidants include wholegrain cereals, berries, and vegetables of the brassica family (such as broccoli, cabbage, kale, turnips, collard greens, etc).
According to research, foods with high antioxidant content can offer protective benefits against cancer. This is mainly because antioxidants can counteract the free radicals in the body.
The best foods to prevent colon cancer include:
- Non-starchy vegetables – Some foods in this category are cabbage, broccoli, artichokes, lettuce, cucumbers, celery, cauliflower, spinach, kale, carrots, etc.
- Colorful fruits – If you need a diet for colon cancer prevention, start by adding more fruits like pears, mangoes, cantaloupes, berries, and apples.
- Fatty fish – Every colon cancer prevention diet needs fatty fish packed with omega-3 fatty acids. These include tuna, sardines, herring, salmon, etc. These foods can reduce inflammation.
- Whole-grain foods – Products such as whole-grain cereals and whole-wheat bread are some of the most popular colon cancer-fighting foods. They are teeming with essential fiber and can go well with any meal. You can also opt for quinoa, brown rice, or barley.
- Lean meat – Turkey and chicken can be added to the prevention of colon cancer diet. They contain a sufficient amount of protein necessary for tissue growth and muscle development.
- Legumes and beans – Another great source of proteins, vitamin E, vitamin B, and fiber are options like lentils, pinto beans, kidney beans, black beans, and soybeans. They can be useful foods to eat to prevent colon cancer.
To know how to avoid colon cancer, you should also be aware of the foods you shouldn’t indulge in. They can enhance the risk of this type of cancer.
For good colon health, it’s best to limit your intake of sodium, processed products (sausages, beef jerky, bacon, ham), sugary beverages, white bread, and red meat (beef, pork, lamb, venison, veal, etc.).
4) Stop smoking
To prevent colon cancer, it’s best to stop smoking. Cigarette smoking has carcinogens. Of about 250 dangerous chemicals found in tobacco smoke, 69 can lead to cancer.
Based on statistics, current smoking was linked with a 59% higher risk of colorectal cancer. Former smoking had a 19% increased risk. But, the risk didn’t increase if smoking cessation was over 20 years ago.
5) Drink in moderation
Want to know how to prevent colon cancer naturally? Avoid drinking alcohol.
Many cancer prevention clinical trials suggest people drink in moderation or avoid alcohol completely. Based on analytics, moderate to heavy drinking has a 1.2-fold to 1.5-fold higher risk of colon cancer as opposed to no alcohol consumption.
6) Consider taking supplements
Doctors may suggest you use supplements to prevent colon cancer. If you don’t get the necessary amount of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals from your diet, you may consider taking supplements.
Some supplements for colon cancer prevention include calcium and vitamin D supplements. However, do have in mind that we need more research on the use of supplements for cancer prevention. So, it is best to consult with a doctor first before you add any supplements to your diet.
7) Stay physically active
To prevent colon cancer, you should maintain a healthy weight and avoid obesity. Exercise can help with that.
30 to 60 min of moderate physical activity can set you on the right track. It can improve well-being and physical health.
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Many people are looking for the best ways to prevent colon cancer. To avoid colon cancer, you should start by incorporating healthy lifestyle choices. That includes diet, exercise, avoiding tobacco, limiting alcohol, etc.
If you are at risk of the disease, then get regular screening. If the doctor finds polyps, you could have them removed and curb the risk of cancer. Be sure to talk to a specialist if you notice any signs or symptoms of colorectal cancer.