Doctors and scientists have learned that a healthy diet can help prevent colon cancer. Following the guidelines below may help reduce your risk of developing colon cancer.
Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. All of these foods are high in fiber and low in fat, which can reduce your risk of developing colon polyps. Fruits and vegetables are also rich in antioxidants, which are known to help prevent cancer.
Limit intake of fatty foods. Studies have shown that people who eat a high-fat diet (especially large amounts of red meat) have an increased risk of getting colon cancer.
Don’t drink too much alcohol. Consuming moderate to heavy amounts of alcohol may increase your risk of getting colon polyps and colon cancer.
Exercise regularly. Being physically active and controlling your weight can reduce your risk of getting colon cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends at least 30 minutes of physical activity five or more days a week.
Stop smoking. People who smoke have a higher risk of developing colon cancer, as well as a wide range of other diseases. Talk to your doctor about ways you can quit smoking.
Colorectal Cancer Screening Guidelines
The key to preventing colorectal cancer is regular screening through colonoscopy. Most experts recommend regular screenings for all adults aged 50 or older. People at a higher risk of developing colorectal cancer (for example, those with a family history of the disease) should begin screening at a younger age, and may need testing more frequently. Your doctor can help you determine if you are at a higher risk for colon cancer.
Fecal occult blood test – tests for hidden blood in three consecutive stool samples, should be administered every year.
Flexible sigmoidoscopy – a flexible, lighted tube (sigmoidoscope) is used to visually inspect the interior of the rectum and the lower part of the colon. Recommended every 5 years.
Double-contrast barium enema – an examination of the colon and rectum using a series of X-rays following an enema of barium dye. Recommended every 5 years.
Colonoscopy – a flexible, lighted tube (colonscope) is used to visually inspect the interior walls of the rectum and the entire colon. Colonoscopies are used as screening tests and as a follow-up diagnostic tool when the results of another screening test are positive. Recommended every 10 years.