Cancer of the colon or rectum is the third leading cause of death from cancer in the U.S. Recently, there has been about a 51% increase in colorectal cancer among those younger than age 50. Choices you make today could protect you against this disease.
6 Lifelong Habits
Research shows that the following tactics may help prevent colorectal cancer:
- Maintain a healthy weight and participate in regular physical activity.
- Limit your intake of red meat and animal fats.
- Eat a diet high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
- Curb your alcohol consumption.
- Quit (or never start) smoking cigarettes.
- Take calcium supplements.
The 7th Strategy: Screenings
Colorectal cancer may cause symptoms, including:
- Blood in the stool
- Recurrent stomach pain or cramping
- Stools narrower than usual
- Unexplained weight loss
Colorectal cancer does not always produce symptoms, especially at first. That’s why regular screenings are so important. The American Cancer Society and U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommend people with an average risk for colorectal cancer start regular screening at age 45. If you have an increased risk for colorectal cancer, you may need to get tested at an earlier age.
Review Your Options
Talk with your healthcare provider about when to begin screening and which test is best for you. Screening options include:
- Fecal occult blood test
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy
- Double contrast barium enema