Over 200,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with colon cancer each year.
Colorectal cancer affects the large intestine which sits at the end of your digestive tract.
Unfortunately, by the time you start to notice signs of colon cancer, the illness has likely already spread throughout different parts of the body.
The best way to fight colorectal cancer is to take a proactive approach through regular screenings.
Colorectal Cancer Causes and Risk Factors
In most cases, colorectal cancer manifests first as noncancerous polyps. At this stage, there aren’t many identifiable symptoms.
After some time, these polyps become cancerous and wreak havoc on the digestive system and other areas.
Doctors aren’t quite sure what exactly causes colorectal cancer. Some studies indicate that a mutated gene can pass the risk of polyps and colorectal cancer down through generations. Diet and other environmental elements also play a role in the development of this cancer.
- Personal history of developing polyps.
- A family history of colorectal cancer or polyps.
- Inflammatory conditions in the digestive tract like ulcerative colitis or Chron’s disease.
- Low fiber and high-fat diets including consumption of red meat.
- Lack of physical activity.
- African Americans are more likely to develop colorectal cancer than other races.
- Smoking and alcohol consumption.
Symptoms of Colon Cancer
Before you notice some of your symptoms are on this list and freak out, it’s important to keep in mind that most signs of colon cancer may indicate other noncancerous conditions:
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Inflammatory bowel disease
If you notice any of the symptoms of colon cancer below, it’s important to see a doctor as soon as possible. Even if you don’t have cancer, you should still seek treatment and advice for conditions such as hemorrhoids, IBS, infection, or other conditions.
- Changing bowel habits that last for more than a few days.
- Feeling like you’re about to have a bowel movement but a bathroom visit brings no relief.
- Bleeding from the rectum.
- Dark stools caused by blood.
- Abdominal pain and cramping.
- Weakness or fatigue.
- Unexpected weight loss
Tips for Colon Cancer Prevention
When it comes to colorectal cancer, prevention is the best treatment plan.
Like mentioned above, by the time you notice colon cancer symptoms, the disease has already had a chance to manifest in other areas throughout the body. That’s why it’s important to take prevention seriously.
Some people may carry a mutated gene that puts them at risk for colorectal cancer. Obviously, you can’t change genetics. You can, however, take charge of other environmental factors that put you at risk.
Stop smoking. Reduce or eliminate alcohol consumption.
Alcohol shares a direct link with many types of illnesses and conditions including cancers of the stomach, breasts, and colon.
Men shouldn’t consume more than two drinks per day while women should limit their drinks to no more than one each day. As usual, it’s best to avoid all alcohol and tobacco as much as possible.
Change your diet.
Since colorectal cancer impacts your digestive tract, it makes sense that diet plays a key role in causing (and preventing) the disease.
For a healthy digestive system, consume lots of high-fiber fruits, vegetables, and whole grains such as oats and brown rice. Limit dairy and red meats as much as possible.
30 minutes a day of low-impact exercise is all it takes. You don’t need to become a crossfit fanatic, even a brisk walk after dinner each night will do just fine.
Watch your weight.
Since obesity is a risk factor for developing colorectal cancer, it’s important to reduce your weight if you’re obese or overweight. If you’re already at a healthy weight, maintain your health through a good diet and exercise.
If you’re over 50 or have a family history of polyps or colorectal cancer, it’s important to get regular screenings. This way, you can catch polyps before they become cancerous and spread.
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