The next time you’re trying to decide whether or not to go to the gym, or if you should stop for some fast food on the way home, the World Cancer Research Fund and The American Institute for Cancer Research have a few more compelling reasons for you to choose exercise and a healthy diet. Their 2017 Colorectal Cancer Report was issued at the end of last year and provided some new insight into what you can do to help reduce your risk of colorectal cancer.
What Were The Findings In The Report?
The extensive report was compiled from evidence gathered in 99 studies conducted around the world, following over 29 million adults and more than 247,000 incidents of colorectal cancer. Key findings from the report included a noted decrease in incidents of the disease amongst those who were physically active. It also showed a lower risk of colorectal cancer in patients who followed a diet including whole grains, high fiber foods, calcium supplements and dairy. Foods that were shown to increase the risk included red meat, processed meat, and two or more alcoholic drinks per day. Not surprisingly, the risks were also higher for participants who were overweight, which tends to coincide with lack of exercise and a non-balanced diet.
How Should I Implement Healthy Changes?
If you already eat a balanced diet and have a regular exercise routine, it’s crucial that you continue as you age. If you are outside of a healthy weight range for your age and size and are looking to implement changes in your diet and exercise, understand that it’s never too late to start. If this is all new to you, speak with your doctor to determine a plan you can ease into slowly. Once you’re more comfortable with an exercise routine, try group workout programs or find a friend who can exercise with you, as that can help you stay accountable to your new goals. This physical activity doesn’t have to be rigorous, The World Cancer Research Fund recommends at least 30 minutes of physical activity per day, with a goal to work up to 60 minutes a day of moderate exercise or 30 minutes a day of vigorous activity. They also have other recommendations you can follow regarding weight loss and a healthy diet.
How Else Can I Avoid Colorectal Cancer?
Colorectal cancer can develop slowly over a decade without showing symptoms, which makes preventative screening crucial. The disease usually grows from noncancerous polyps in the large intestine and rectum. The only way to find these polyps and remove them, while also monitoring any new growth, is through regular colonoscopies. Current recommendations are to begin screening by age 50 and maintain them regularly every 10 years. While those are the recommendations for men and women in good health with no other risks, you may fall into a higher risk category necessitating earlier testing. These risk factors, which should be discussed with your doctor, include a family history of the disease, inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, being overweight, African American, or if you have personal history of another form of cancer.
If you’re turning 50 soon and haven't gotten a colonoscopy, make an appointment today to see a member of the GI Associates team. We can also discuss your diet and lifestyle at your appointment and make sure you’re on the right path to reduce your risk of colorectal cancer.