Although there is wisdom in the adage “prevention is better than cure,” not all cancer can be prevented. Fortunately, colorectal cancer, the third most common cancer in the United States (excluding skin cancers), is “preventable, beatable and treatable,” with screening, diet, exercise, and a better lifestyle. And prevention is a necessity in light of a very recent study that finds that even when the incidence of colorectal cancer in the older population is decreasing, they are increasing among the millennium generation.
In fact, those born in 1990 have 2 times the risk of colon cancer and 4 times the risk of rectal cancer than those born in 1950. What is more worrying, in the younger generation; cancers are often detected in an advanced stage. This makes knowing the symptoms and risk factors even more important. Check if you are at risk for colorectal cancer and follow these 5 simple ways to prevent colon cancer and rectal cancer.
1. Review of Polyps in the Colon and Rectum:
Colorectal cancer usually begins with a polyp, a small growth in the inner lining of the rectum or colon (large intestine). This polyp is not yet malignant and has no symptoms. It takes 10 to 15 years to become cancerous. The review can help detect these precancerous growths and can be easily removed. This is the reason why regular evaluations are an essential preventive measure.
If you are 50 Years Old or Older:
Age is a risk factor. Nearly 90 out of 100 people with colorectal cancer are 50 years old or older. The chances of diagnosis increase progressively after age 40 and sharply after age 50. Get tested regularly once you turn 50. However, in light of the new study, the review for the younger generation may be recommended well before the age of 50, depending on their symptoms and risk profiles. Gender does not seem to be an important risk factor, although men have a slightly higher risk, possibly due to lifestyle risk factors.
If You have a Family History of Polyps and Cancer:
Your genes are another risk factor. Approximately 5 to 10% of cases of colorectal cancer are due to inherited conditions such as colon tumors and Lynch syndrome. If you have a family history of polyps, uterine cancer, colon cancer and inflammatory bowel disease, perform regular screening tests, even before your 50th birthday.
Screening Tests for Colorectal Cancer:
The fecal occult blood test examines under the microscope if the stool contains traces of blood, indicating the presence of polyps or cancer in the colorectal duct. This should be done every year.
The barium enema test involves passing the barium to the gastrointestinal tract through an enema. X-rays of the gastrointestinal tract are then taken and checked for abnormalities. This should be done every 5 years.
Sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy involve the insertion of a thin tube with a lens in the anus to check for abnormalities. Polyps or tissue samples can also be removed and examined for cancer. Sigmoidoscopy should be performed every 5 years, while colonoscopy can be performed every 10 years.
2. Follow the Correct Diet:
Interestingly, colorectal cancer was quite rare in the United States before the 20th century, but there has been a sharp increase – along with economic development – in the last 100 years. Today, most colorectal cancers occur in industrialized countries. Rates are also rising in less developed countries as they adopt a more western lifestyle.
“This points to the role of environmental and lifestyle factors in increasing the risk of colorectal cancer”.
A large part of your lifestyle has to do with what you eat. Therefore, follow these guidelines on what you should eat and what you should not eat to prevent colorectal cancer.
Fiber: Whole and Sprouted Grains:
A good fiber intake moves waste through the digestive tract more quickly and prevents toxic waste from remaining in the digestive system. Increase your fiber ratio with foods such as whole grains, sprouts, beans and fresh fruits and vegetables. It is also a good idea to have less refined carbohydrates such as white flour.
Antioxidants: Vegetables and Colored Berries:
Eat antioxidant-rich foods to fight free radicals and prevent damage to cells and tissues. Antioxidants such as carotene and beta carotene are useful for fighting free radicals. Foods rich in these antioxidants include red, yellow, orange and green vegetables. Green tea, which is rich in antioxidants, also helps. Berries are also effective cancer fighters due to a group of plant antioxidant chemicals called polyphenols,. In a study from the Medical College of Wisconsin, berries such as black raspberries and strawberries were found to inhibit colon cancer by 80% in rats. While its anti-cancer properties in humans are being studied further, researchers have supported its positive role in cancer prevention. Being rich in polyphenols, prunes or dried plums also have the ability to reduce the risk of cancer.
Folic acid (Vit. B9): Spinach and Beans:
Folic acid is an established fighter against cancer. It allows the formation of new cells and tissues and keeps the red blood cells active and healthy. Although folic acid supplements are widely available, increase your intake through natural sources such as spinach, sprouts, beans and citrus fruits.
Calcium and Vitamin D: Milk, Cheese and Sunlight:
According to a review by the World Cancer Research Fund / American Institute for Cancer Research (WCRF / AICR) , calcium can have a protective effect against cancer. At least 1000 mg / day of calcium per day is optimal. Natural sources of calcium include dairy products such as milk and cheese. Vitamin D deficiency has also been implicated in an increased risk of cancer. Anyway, your body needs it to absorb calcium, so try to sunbathe in the morning for about 10-15 minutes every day. You can also take supplements, but the vitamin is best obtained from its natural source: sunlight.
Magnesium: Pumpkin and Spinach Seeds:
It has been found that magnesium reduces the risk of colorectal tumors. For every 100 mg of extra magnesium per day, there is a 13% lower risk of colorectal tumors and a 12% lower risk of colorectal cancer. One cup of roasted and unsalted pumpkin seeds contains 168 mg of magnesium, which can meet 41% of your daily needs. Spinach is also a good source of magnesium.
Sulforaphane: Broccoli and Cabbage:
Cabbage, Brussels sprouts and broccoli are cruciferous vegetables that have a compound called sulforaphane . It has been seen that sulforaphene can control the formation of colon tumors and also stimulate the death of cancer cells.
Garlic, Raw or Cooked:
The good effects of garlic extend even to cancer prevention. The more garlic you consume, cooked or raw, the lower your risk of stomach and colorectal cancer. Another study found that women who had the highest amount of garlic had a 50% lower risk of cancer in the lower part of the colon compared to women who ate the least amount. Why is garlic so good? It could be because garlic is antibacterial, prevents substances that cause cancer from causing damage, reduces cell multiplication (the results of uncontrolled cell multiplication in the tumor), induces apoptosis or cell death and increases DNA repair. Eat at least one clove of fresh garlic a day. Chop it or crush it to release the active ingredient, allicin . Anyway, you should be eating these anticancer foods.
Avoid Red and Processed Meat:
Eating less processed or cured meat (ham, sausage and bacon) and less red meat (beef, venison and pork) can help you avoid colorectal cancer. If you eat more than 90 g of red and processed meat a day, try reducing it to 70 g. Even if your consumption is not high, you may be at risk since cooking meat at high temperatures for a long time can also release carcinogenic compounds and increase the risk of cancer.
3. Exercise to Maintain a Healthy Weight:
The obesity, a risk factor for many diseases, also has an uneasy relationship with colon cancer. Increases the risk of cancer by 33%. Check your body mass index (BMI) to make sure you have a healthy weight. BMI of more than 25 kg / m2 is associated with a 24% increase in the prevalence of colorectal tumors. Eating healthy and exercising can also keep those pounds at bay. Exercise is crucial to prevent any type of cancer. A sedentary lifestyle and long hours of sitting increase the risks of colorectal cancer. So get up and from that ride! Experts recommend about 2.5 hours of moderate aerobic exercise (say fast walking or cycling) every week.
4. Stop Smoking:
Smoking is a known risk factor for several types of cancer, and in colorectal is no exception. In the United States, of every 100 victims of this disease, 12 are to blame for smoking. It is known that nicotine is related to stomach and colorectal cancer, and long-term smokers are at greater risk. So if you smoke, it’s time to stop! If you do not smoke but are exposed to secondhand smoke, take action. Passive smokers can also develop colorectal cancer before active smokers.
5. Reduce Alcohol Consumption:
Alcohol consumption has been linked to an increased risk of rectal and colon cancers. Alcohol consumption also depletes folic acid, which is crucial to prevent cancers. It is advisable not to consume more than 14 units of alcohol a week or 2 drinks a day – for women the fee is only 1 drink per day. A unit of alcohol is the amount of pure alcohol contained in an alcoholic beverage; this is usually mentioned on the bottle or can, so read the labels.
Take Control Before Cancer Does:
You cannot control your genes or how they suddenly mutate and put you at risk of this disease. But you can certainly control your lifestyle and get screened regularly. And that is all you need to do to prevent the scourge called colorectal disease.