While the number one thing you can do to prevent colon cancer is to get screened routinely, beginning at age 45, says the Centers for Disease Control, there are other things you can do to further lower your risk.
Know your family health history. If you have a close family member who had colorectal cancer, your doctor might recommend screening at a younger age, screening more often, colonoscopy-only screening and/or genetic testing.
Choose wisely when you eat.
Just like advice for avoiding many other chronic conditions such as heart disease and diabetes, eating food low in animal/saturated fats and high in fruit, vegetables and whole grains is recommended.
Keep a healthy weight. For most people, this requires attention to a combination of good habits: Healthy eating, getting enough sleep, reducing stress and moving your body more are all part of achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.
Get regular exercise. See the CDC’s physical activity guidelines for different age groups.
Limit the amount of alcohol you drink
If you’re a legal age adult who chooses to drink, keep it moderate—for men, that’s no more than two drinks a day; for women, just one drink.
Avoid tobacco. Tobacco use can cause cancer almost anywhere in the body. It’s smart to stay away from secondhand smoke, smokeless tobacco and electronic cigarettes too. Learn the real ways loved ones are impacted by colon cancer caused from smoking.
Bonus strategy: Talk with your doctor about taking a daily, low-dose aspirin. Why is aspirin helpful for some adults age 50+? Aspirin keeps blood cells called platelets from producing an enzyme that allows them to clump together. Cancer tumor cells can attach to these clumps and spread throughout the body. Because aspirin prevents clumping, aspirin could also keep cancer cells from spreading. See guidelines for low-dose aspirin use for those age 50+.
Need a little extra help following this advice?
Many of the steps to reduce colon cancer are connected and improve overall healthy living. If these habits are part of your routine or you’re actively working to adopt them, you can feel even better knowing you’re helping prevent many other types of disease. If you need support, Valley’s Lifestyle Medicine is a great place to start. Preview how Lifestyle Medicine can help you by attending a free, online HealthYCare session—reserve your spot!