Colon cancer is one of the most prevalent–and one of the most deadly–cancers in both the United States and the world today. It is estimated that over 140,000 new cases of colon cancer will be diagnosed in the US in the year 2019. These astounding numbers, in addition to the morbidity associated with colon cancer, make its prevention and early treatment vitally important. Recently, researchers have found a correlation between the intake of two substances and reduced colorectal cancer risk. Read on to learn more about colon cancer, the results of this study, and how you can help reduce your risk.
Quick Colon Cancer Facts
Earlier in 2018, the American Cancer Society lowered the suggested start age for colon cancer screenings from 50 to 45 for both men and women. This is in part because of a higher incidence of colon cancer cases, particularly in those under the age of 50. Lifestyle habits such as the consumption of red meat and smoking can increase risk, regardless of age. Obesity and the heavy consumption of alcohol are also correlated in all patients. However, the most significant risk factor for colon cancer is genetics. If you have a first-degree relative who has had colon cancer, or even other GI disturbances, such as irritable bowel disease (IBD), you should inform your physician so you can be checked for the first time even earlier than 45. When it comes to screening, the most likely and preferred choice is a colonoscopy, performed either at your physician's office or in an efficient outpatient setting.
Colon Cancer Prevention
As genetics is the most pronounced risk factor when it comes to colon cancer, prevention is not a simple, straightforward task. However, being educated about your family history and relaying this information to your doctor is imperative, so that you get earlier access to needed colorectal cancer screenings. Also, there are steps you can take toward prevention, such as eating a healthy diet and exercising often. Obesity is directly correlated with the risk of colon cancer.
Also, limiting or eliminating red meat and processed meat intake can help, as well as quitting smoking and drinking alcohol only in moderation. Following your doctor’s advice is necessary as well–regular screenings can help catch colon cancer in its beginning stages. Part of the reason why colon cancer has a high morbidity rate is that symptoms do not present until the disease has advanced into a later stage. However, a colonoscopy can detect early-stage colorectal cancer.
Recent Studies and Cancer Prevention
Scientists, doctors, and researchers are looking for further advances patients can take to help prevent colon cancer incidence. A new study took a look at patients taking doses of both aspirin and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), which is one of the main omega-3 fatty acids. Different groups were given aspirin, EPA, both, or placebo. Overall, the results concluded that those who took aspirin had 22 percent fewer polyps, while those who took EPA also had a significantly less number of polyps, especially on the left side of the large bowel. While more research is needed, this particular study does show a possible preventative correlation between both aspirin and EPA. However, there are some things to keep in mind, particularly when you hear about new research or are introduced to new articles.
It’s important to read the article or research study thoroughly and to the end, and to discuss any new treatment options with your doctor prior to beginning a new regimen. While this study does show a likely correlation between colorectal cancer prevention and aspirin, its usage can lead to heavy bleeding in some patients, and therefore not recommended. The doctors at GI Associates are always up-to-date on the latest research, so talk over any possible lifestyle changes with them first.
For more information on colon cancer prevention, or if you have questions or need to schedule a screening, book an appointment with GI Associates today. With three separate locations and pediatric services, we offer convenience and the best of care for the entire family.