We tend to think of health as a game of cards—you play the hand you’re dealt with very little control over the outcome. In other words, it’s all just chance. As more research is being done, especially around cancer, it turns out that’s just not true. More and more evidence is being discovered that suggests what you do with that hand of cards can make a significant difference in prevention, stopping recurrence, and treatment of cancer. Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States in both men and women. Each year an average of one in every twenty persons will be diagnosed with colon cancer. With odds like that, you had better learn to play the game!

Healthy Lifestyle’s Effect on Colon Cancer

The good news is that, no matter who you are, you do not have to resign yourself to waiting to see what happens. No matter your medical history, there are things you can change now to increase your overall health and lessen your chance of getting colon cancer or decrease the odds of recurrence. A study by the University of California in San Francisco found that people who ate right and were physically active lowered their risk of colon cancer death by almost half. In addition, the study revealed that survivors of colon cancer who adhered to a healthy diet and exercise regimen decreased their risk of recurrence by thirty-one percent. There are currently more than one million colon cancer survivors in the U.S., so a statistic like this could make a significant impact on the cancer population. Likewise, nutrition and activity has shown to increase the life expectancy of someone diagnosed with colon cancer. All in all, there is no denying the benefits of healthy living on the prevention, survival rate, and lifespan of those prone to and affected by colon cancer.

Guidelines for a Healthy Lifestyle

This study by University of California, San Francisco makes a convincing argument for eating right and exercising, but what does that look like in practicality? The ACS (American Cancer Society) has found that twenty percent of all cancers, including colon cancer, are directly related to lifestyle choices—high body fat, physical inactivity, poor nutritional habits, and excessive alcohol consumption. For this reason, they have put together some guidelines for nutrition and activity to help in cancer prevention and treatment. These guidelines reference achieving and maintaining a healthy weight throughout life by consuming and avoiding certain foods and getting a good amount of regular exercise. Eating healthy includes lessening or eliminating processed and red meats. For most people, red meat should be limited to no more than one pound per week. The ACS recommends eating at least two and a half cups of vegetables and fruits per day and replacing refined grains (e.g. white flour and white rice) with whole grains (whole wheat flour and brown rice). If you drink alcohol, avoid doing so in excess by limiting the amount to one drink a day for women and two for men. The recommended amount of activity for adults is 150 of moderate activity per week. Moderate activity includes things like swimming, brisk walking, and mowing the lawn. Pay attention to time spent in sedentary activities like lying down, reading, and watching TV, and make a point to stand and move regularly. Regardless of your current habits, research shows that making even small changes in the right direction can have a huge impact on future health.

If you have a history of colon cancer in your family or your own life and would like help adjusting your lifestyle, our doctors at GI Associates can help. Don’t wait to improve your health. Make an appointment today at one of our three convenient locations, and make the hand you were dealt a winning hand!

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