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Listen to your gut, prevent colorectal cancer
Listen to your gut, prevent colorectal cancer

Listen to your gut, prevent colorectal cancer

Tuesday, April 30, 2024


When it comes to colorectal cancer, listening to your gut proves critical. Colorectal cancer begins in the colon or rectum (a.k.a the digestive system, a.k.a. the gut). Although colorectal cancer is a common cancer, the good news is that colorectal cancer is known as one of the most preventable cancers, according to the Colorectal Cancer Alliance.  


Want to do everything possible to prevent colorectal cancer? There’s no guaranteed way to sidestep colon cancer, but researchers have found these seven health and lifestyle choices make a difference: 


1. Get screened. 

The number one way to prevent colorectal cancer is to participate in regular screenings beginning at 45 years old. Here’s why: It usually takes 10 to 15 years for abnormal cells to grow into the polyps that develop into colorectal cancer. Thanks to screenings, physicians can identify and remove most polyps before they morph into cancer. Plus, when detected early, colorectal cancer has a 90% survival rate. 


2. Know your family and personal history. 

Talk with a doctor about your family and personal history to decide if early screening is necessary. A history of cancer, genetic conditions and diagnoses such as Chron’s disease may warrant an early screening. 


3. Look for red-flag symptoms. 

Talk to a doctor if any of the following show up: 

  • Bowel habits change  

  • Persistent abdominal discomfort  

  • Rectal bleeding 

  • Unexplained weakness or fatigue 


4. Live an active life. 

Studies on the MDPI scientific journal publishing website have shown that physically active people have a 25% lower risk of developing colorectal cancer. Exercise supports blood flow, metabolism and - you guessed it - the gut.  


5. Stop smoking. 

While known as the main preventable cause of death due to any cancer, heavy smoking specifically increases the risk of colon cancer by 40%. Plus, those with colorectal cancer who smoke double their risk of not surviving compared with people who do not smoke. 


6. Reduce or eliminate alcohol consumption. 

Moderate to heavy social drinkers have a 20 to 40% increased risk for colorectal cancer, depending on consumption frequency. Grab a water instead. 


7.Replace some red meat with poultry, fish, dairy and whole grains. 

A high intake of red and processed meat means a 20 to 30% increase in the likelihood of colorectal cancer malignancies. On the flip side, eating whole grains and dairy products can help reduce the risk of colon cancer. 


While it may feel tempting to pick one of the above seven tactics to focus on, a recent trial on the American Association for Cancer Research website found that addressing a combination of risk factors maximizes success in preventing colorectal cancer. So, look at the list, and then make as many healthy choices and improvements as possible to prevent colon cancer.  


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Genesis HealthCare System’s Health and Wellness content conveniently provides accurate and helpful information. Your health history and current health may impact suggestions provided through our Health and Wellness content. Although we hope this information is helpful, it is not a substitute for your doctor's medical advice. Before making any significant changes, please consult your doctor.