Health & Prevention
Know Your Risk
Knowledge is key. And understanding your lifestyle and family-related risk factors for colorectal cancer are important tools in knowing when you should begin regular screenings and tests. The American Cancer Society states that the links between diet, weight, exercise, and colorectal cancer risk are some of the strongest for any type of cancer. Additionally, family history, age and personal history play a significant role in colorectal cancer risk.
Below are some important risk factors to be aware of and discuss with your primary care doctor:
The risk of colorectal cancer increase with age and is more common after age 45. If you are between the ages of 45 and 75, get tested regularly for colorectal cancer. Discuss potential cancer risks with your provider so you can determine the best schedule for regular testing.
A FAMILY HISTORY OF COLORECTAL CANCER
If you have a known family history of colorectal cancer, it’s recommended that regular preventative screenings begin earlier than age 45. Approximately 1 in 3 people diagnosed with colorectal cancer have a family history of the disease.
A PERSONAL HISTORY OF COLORECTAL POLYPS OR INFLAMMATORY BOWEL DISEASE
Having a history of adenomatous polyps, the most common type of polyps, increases your risk of developing colorectal cancer again, even if it was completely removed the first time. Having a history of inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease increases your risk of developing colorectal cancer.
What you eat and the overall health of your digestive system are directly related. Following these guidelines will help make sure it’s always a happy relationship.
HIGH FIVE TO HIGH FIBER
Consuming a diet that is high in fiber and rich in whole grains, vegetables, legumes, and fruits can improve your digestive health and make it less likely you will become constipated. A high-fiber diet can also help diverticulosis, hemorrhoids, and irritable bowel syndrome and even help you achieve or maintain a healthy weight.
CHOOSE LEAN MEATS
Fatty foods tend to slow down the digestive process, making you more prone to constipation. It is important to get some fat in your diet, but pairing fatty foods with high-fiber foods can make them easier on your digestive system. When you eat meat, select lean cuts, such as skinless poultry or a pork loin.
PROBIOTICS FOR THE WIN
Probiotics are the healthy bacteria that are naturally present in your digestive tract. Sometimes they are stripped away as the result of a poor diet, antibiotics, and stress. Probiotics can enhance nutrient absorption, help break down lactose, strengthen your immune system, and possibly even help treat irritable bowel syndrome. Try to consume good sources of probiotics, such as low-fat yogurt or kefir, on a daily basis.
Drinking plenty of water is good for your digestive health. Water in your digestive system helps dissolve fats and soluble fiber, allowing these substances to pass through more easily.
AVOID SMOKING, DRINKING, AND EXCESSIVE CAFFEINE
Alcohol, coffee, and cigarettes can interfere with the functioning of your digestive system and lead to problems like stomach ulcers and heartburn.
GET MOVING TO KEEP EVERYTHING MOVING
Regular exercise helps keep foods moving through your digestive system, thereby reducing constipation. Exercise can also help you maintain a healthy weight, which is good for your overall digestive health. Make it a point to work regular exercise into your weekly schedule.