How to Achieve Good Colon Health
Maintaining good physical health means paying attention to all parts of your body — even the ones you don’t typically think about. Unfortunately, too many people neglect their colon health, leading to serious consequences later in life.
Thankfully, avoiding colorectal diseases down the road is as easy as eating healthier and keeping appointments with your healthcare providers. Learn how you can help improve your colon health and ensure a bright future for yourself.
Why should I worry about colorectal health?
According to the Centers for Disease Control, colorectal cancer — also known as colon cancer — is the third most common form of cancer in American men and women, excluding some forms of skin cancer.
Additionally, in 2018 the CDC reported colorectal cancer had the fourth highest rate of death in the country at a rate of 13.1 per 100,000 people — trailing lung and bronchus cancer, female breast cancer, and prostate cancer.
Am I at risk?
The risk of colorectal cancer increases as you age — therefore, taking preventative steps is imperative no matter what.
Other risk factors can include any of the following.
- Inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis
- Personal or family history with colorectal diseases
- Genetic syndromes such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (Lynch syndrome)
- Lifestyle factors including lack of physical activity; diet lacking fruits and vegetables; low-fiber, high-fat diets, or diets high in processed meats; obesity; alcohol consumption; and tobacco use.
How do I manage my risk?
One of the first steps you can take to improve your colorectal health is to eat a better diet. This means cutting out animal fats as much as possible and incorporating more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains into your meals and snacks. Other healthy choices like getting more exercise, quitting tobacco use, and quitting drinking alcohol can also reduce your risk.
Studies by the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force have also shown that taking low-dose aspirin can help reduce the risk for colorectal cancer as well as cardiovascular disease.
Of course, even if you live the healthiest lifestyle, you should still schedule regular screenings to be sure. In fact, 90% of cancer-related deaths can be prevented just by undergoing a routine colonoscopy. Both men and women should begin scheduling colonoscopies every 10 years starting at age 45, though patients with any risk factors mentioned above should consult their physicians about starting earlier.
Colorectal cancer is a disease that affects many Americans every year, but by making healthy lifestyle choices and scheduling regular screenings, you can greatly reduce your risk and assure yourself a lifetime of good health.