If you’re a regular reader of this blog or just happened to check out some of our more recent blog posts, you’ve probably noticed that we’ve dedicated a number of recent postings to the topic of colon cancer. March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month, so we’ve decided to put the problem in the spotlight in the hopes that we can help patients understand the risks the disease poses and the importance of early screening and detection. In today’s blog, we take a closer look at some of the lifestyle factors that can put a person at risk for developing colon cancer.
Modifiable Risk Factors That Can Increase Colon Cancer Risk
As we’ve discussed on the blog in the past, there are some demographic factors that can put a person at an increased risk for developing colon cancer. For example, being a male or being African American are two demographics that are at a heightened risk for colon cancer onset. However, these aren’t exactly modifiable factors. That’s why we want to highlight some risk factors that you have more control over changing to help lower your risk of colon cancer.
With that in mind, here’s a look at some of the more controllable factors that can affect your colon cancer risk as you age.
- Alcohol Consumption – Excessive alcohol consumption can damage healthy tissue and over time increase your risk of polyp formation or colon cancer.
- Poor Diet – Your diet can also play a significant role in your colon cancer risk. A diet packed with vegetables, fruits and whole grains has been associated with a decreased risk of colon cancer, whereas diets heavy in red or processed meats may increase your risk of the condition. Make smart choices when it comes to your diet.
- Your Weight – Overweight and obese individuals are at an increased risk for colon cancer development and death from the condition. Slim your waistline to reduce your colon cancer risk.
- Sedentary Lifestyle – Along a similar vein, exercise has been linked to a decreased likelihood of colon cancer risk, while inactivity has been associated with a greater risk of developing the condition. Regular exercise, or even making it a point to get up and move at regular intervals if you work a desk job, can all help to lower your colon cancer risk.
- Smoking – Smoking inhibits healthy blood flow through the body and can increase your blood pressure, two things that, over time, can make you more likely to develop colon cancer. Kick the habit to help reduce your risk.
- Uncontrolled Blood Sugar Levels – Diabetics are at a higher risk for colon cancer development, but you can help reduce your risk as a diabetic if you’re vigilant about controlling your blood sugar levels and keeping them in a healthy range. Huge spikes and drops can affect bodily processes that in turn can increase your colon cancer risk.
- Not Getting Screened – Finally, one of the easiest things to help reduce your risk of problematic colon cancer is to get screened at the proper intervals. Regular screenings can give you a clean bill of health or catch small problems when they can be easily treated. If you want to greatly reduce your risk of severe colon cancer, undergo regular screenings once you turn 45.
All of the above factors are things you can control or improve, so keep them in mind and work towards lowering your colon cancer risk. For more information, or to set up your colon cancer screen, contact Dr. Bhatti and the team at Bhatti GI Consultants today.