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Health Tips & TopicsGeneral

Colon Cancer Risk Factors and Tips for Lowering Risk

Colon cancer, also known as colorectal cancer, is the third most common cancer in the United States. The American  Cancer Society estimates the lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer is 1 in 22 for men and 1 in 24 for women.

The good news is that colon cancer can be prevented and is treatable with a high rate of success when detected  early enough. Prevention in three-quarters of all cases is based on things we can do every day.

Screening
Colon cancer screenings, the most common is a colonoscopy, examines the  walls of your large intestines for small growths called polyps. If polyps are 
detected, they can be removed before they turn into cancer. Early detection will most likely lead to successful treatment. Be sure to talk to your physician about when you should have a screening.

Physical Activity
Exercise and overall physical movement seem to protect us all from just about everything. So it is no wonder this is an essential preventive measure to 
decrease the risk of colon cancer. The greater the amount of activity, the more protection you’ll get.

Reduce Red Meat and Eliminate Processed Meat
Red meat contains heme iron, which is thought to promote increased cell division and cancer growth. Poultry does not have the same iron; therefore, 
it doesn’t seem to pose a threat of increased risk for cancer. Processed meats contain several chemicals—most prevalent being nitrites and nitrates—that 
increase the risk of cancer far greater than red meat.

Watch Your Weight
As with many health conditions, being overweight increases your risk of colon cancer. Being obese almost doubles your risk compared to being overweight. 
There is also a difference in the type of fat carried. Visceral fat, the fat around your belly that sticks to your organs, poses a greater risk than fat that accumulates around the legs and buttocks.

Supplement with Calcium
Taking 3,000mg Calcium carbonate daily reduced the risk for colon cancer in people who already had a polyp removed. Other research is suggesting that 
Vitamin D is the better risk reducer. So the takeaway here is to supplement with at least 1,000mg of Calcium with at least 2000 IU of vitamin D as well. 
If you’ve had polyps or are at high risk for colon cancer, talk to your doctor before starting a calcium supplement regimen because a good balanced diet 
may be sufficient.

Quit smoking
The extremely high health risks and the immeasurable benefits of quitting smoking are well known. Smoking is the single greatest risk factor for cancer. 
Not to mention it’s also at the top of the list for several other severe health conditions. Talk to your physician and create a plan together to stop smoking.

Above all, you should always talk to your physician and know your risk factors:

  • Age - 45 and older
  • A family history of colon cancer
  • Consume large amounts of red meat
  • Smoking
  • Low levels of vitamin D
  • Overweight or obesity
  • Extreme lack of physical activity
  • Type 2 diabetes