5 Simple Rules to Reduce Your Risk for Colorectal Cancer

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

Kathleen Lambert, MDColorectal cancer, or cancer of the large intestine, is the second leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. However, it’s also one of the most detectable cancers and it responds well to early treatment.

Your risk of developing colorectal cancer is a combination of controllable and uncontrollable factors. People older than 50 and those who have a family history of colorectal, ovarian or breast cancer have a higher risk of developing the disease than others. Luckily, there are many things you can do to reduce your risk of developing colorectal cancer.

According to the American Cancer Society, regular screenings and some lifestyle changes can help prevent colorectal cancer. Modern technology makes screening for the disease much easier (and less uncomfortable), but there are many other things you can do on your own to reduce your risk of developing the disease. In fact, researchers believe that eating a nutritious diet, exercising and controlling body fat could prevent nearly 45 percent of colorectal cancer cases.

Dramatically reduce your risk of getting colorectal cancer by following these five simple rules:

  1. Get moving. Physical activity is a powerful weapon against colorectal cancer. In a recent study, exercise was linked to a 24-percent-decreased risk of developing the disease. Aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity, five days a week.
  2. Eat healthy. Adhering to a healthy, low-fat diet with plenty of fiber and at least five servings of fruits and veggies each day can dramatically reduce your risk of developing cancer. Also, limit red and processed meats – they are linked to an increased cancer risk.
  3. Get screened. Your recovery largely depends on the stage of your cancer, which is why early detection is so important. Stage I colorectal cancer has a five-year survival rate of 74 percent. Whereas, there is only a 6 percent survival rate after five years for a Stage IV diagnosis. Beginning at age 50, schedule routine colonoscopies at least every 10 years.
  4. Manage your vices. Smoking and drinking radically contribute to your risk of developing colorectal cancer. People who consume more than seven alcoholic beverages a week have a 72-percent-increased risk, whereas long-term smokers have up to a 164-percent-increased risk.
  5. Keep your weight in check. Obese people (those with a BMI over 29) have a 20-percent-increased risk of developing colorectal cancer compared to those of normal weight.

Dr. Kathleen Lambert is a board-certified hematologist and oncologist with Georgia Cancer Specialists, affiliated with Northside Hospital Cancer Institute, in Conyers and Decatur. For more information, visit gacancer.com or northside.com.

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