Colon cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. Keep in mind, however, that you can take steps to reduce your risk of adding to that statistic.
Colon cancer most often starts as a polyp, which is a small growth. Screening for precancerous growths is the best way to prevent colon cancer before it develops.
While there are several screening methods, a colonoscopy is the most thorough approach. At Hudson River Gastroenterology in New York City, Dr. Prem Chattoo provides a full range of services, including colonoscopy screening.
In addition, there are lifestyle factors within your control that impact your risk of colon cancer. Take a moment to find out what you can do today to protect your colon health.
Cut back on red meat consumption
Eating a diet high in red meats like beef, lamb, and pork, as well as processed meats like bacon and sausage, is linked to an increased risk of colon cancer. What’s more, cooking methods can exacerbate the issue. Charring meat produces chemicals that are harmful to colon health.
Consuming less red meat and more plant-based foods reduces the risk of not only colon cancer, but other colon issues, such as inflammatory bowel disease, constipation, and diverticulitis. Make cutting back on red meat consumption a top priority.
Start by replacing two meals of red meat per week with poultry, fish, or plant-based protein like beans or tofu.
Increase your fiber intake
If you’re like most Americans, you’re falling short of getting the recommended 25-28 grams of fiber per day. Fiber is your colon’s friend. It serves the following functions:
- Adds bulk to stool
- Reduces cholesterol
- Boosts satiety
- Promotes regularity
- Binds toxins
- Feeds beneficial bacteria
- Promotes blood sugar balance
To boost fiber intake, start by gradually adding more fiber to your diet. Adding too much, too quickly can lead to digestive issues, such as bloating and stomach discomfort. Whole grains, beans, and legumes are some of the richest sources of fiber in the diet.
High-fiber breakfast cereals and 100% whole grain foods are good options. Listen to your body. Back off briefly if you experience digestive distress.
Move your body regularly
Getting regular physical activity has a plethora of benefits, including contributing to gut health. Exercise lowers inflammation, helps to regulate the immune system, and causes changes that benefit the good bacteria in your gut.
You can reap these benefits by getting a minimum of 20 minutes of exercise 4-5 times per week. If going to the gym isn’t your thing, go for a brisk walk, or try out a sport like tennis. Vigorous activity is even more effective. Find something you enjoy doing so you’ll stick with it.
Not only does exercise significantly lower colon cancer risk, it reduces the rate of recurrence as well.
Take action now to cut your risk of developing colon cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends that you start scheduling colonoscopy screenings at the age of 45 — sooner if you have factors that put you at an increased risk.
To schedule a colonoscopy, and for all of your gastroenterology needs, call one of our two New York City offices or book online to schedule an appointment with Dr. Chattoo.