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How Can You Prevent Colon Cancer: Top 5 Steps to Lower Your Risk

How can you prevent colon cancer? This is an ongoing question in the medical world. Colon cancer, commonly known as colorectal cancer, is one of the most common and preventable forms of cancer. Early detection and lifestyle adjustments can dramatically lower your risk. Understanding the primary risk factors for colon cancer is the first step toward prevention. While genetics have a role, many cases are associated with lifestyle and nutritional behaviors that can be changed to reduce your risk.

Colon cancer, a tough opponent in the world of health, frequently creates panic owing to its devastating effects. However, the ability to combat this disease is well within our reach. Preventing colon cancer requires a combination of lifestyle decisions, dietary habits, and regular screenings. Understanding the risk factors and taking preventive steps can dramatically lower the likelihood of acquiring this condition.

In this blog, we’ll look at practical and effective ways to avoid colon cancer, allowing you to take control of your health and secure your future. Whether through food, exercise, or medical examinations, each move you take can significantly impact your overall health. Join us as we discuss the critical measures to prevent colon cancer and live a more vibrant life.

Colorectal cancer prevention starts with you.

What Is Colorectal Cancer?

Colon cancer is sometimes referred to as colorectal cancer because it is often combined with rectal cancer. They both start the same way and have common characteristics. This cancer starts in the rectum, and part of the large intestine called the colon. It can affect any age group and will appear as polyps, small bunches of cells inside the rectum or colon. Their appearance doesn’t mean cancer, they are colorectal adenomas or polyps, otherwise referred to as pre-cancerous growths. Only after they undergo a DNA change and become cancer cells will these become a problem.

Early stages of colorectal cancer present little to no symptoms at first. However, some causes may show symptoms such as bowel changes, blood in the stool, stomach pain, and unexplained weight loss. Therefore, regular testing is advised, and if polyps are found, they may be removed to lower your cancer risk.

There are multiple treatment methods if you do develop colorectal cancer, such as immunotherapy, surgery, or the conventional route of chemotherapy. However, it is strongly advised to exhaust all natural non-invasive options prior to conventional treatments, as this will maintain optimal health and immunity throughout the process. 

Types of Colorectal Cancer:

Adenocarcinoma

The most common kind, adenocarcinoma, begins in the mucus-producing glands of the colon or rectum.

Other types

Carcinoid tumors, gastrointestinal stromal tumors, and lymphomas are all rare.

Colorectal Cancer Symptoms

Even though colorectal cancer symptoms are not common, they may occur. Large enough cancer polyps in an area causing agitation may cause the following:

  • Rapid loss of weight.

  • Frequent constipation or diarrhea.

  • Tiredness or weakness.

  • Blood in the stools or rectal bleeding.

  • After a bowel movement, you might feel as if your bowel isn’t empty.

  • Constant pain, discomfort, gas, or pain in the belly.

Colon or Rectal Cancer Causes

Understanding the causes of colon and rectal cancer is important for prevention and early detection. While the actual cause of many tumors is not always known, a number of variables can raise the risk.

There isn’t a way to pinpoint what exactly causes colon and rectal cancers. Cells start to change their DNA structure after being prompted by many factors. These changes allow cancer cells to replicate fast and continue to live after healthy cells die. This allows them to spread and form a tumor. They proliferate rapidly, attack and kill healthy tissue, and continue to break apart and spread, resulting in metastatic cancer.

Colorectal Cancer Risk Factors

Age and Gender 

Although rectal cancer and colon cancer can occur in any age group, it is most common in people older than 55. Most diagnoses are made at around 66 years of age. Additionally, men face a slightly higher chance of developing colorectal cancer than women.

The risk of colorectal cancer is higher as you age.

Family History and Genetics

A history of colorectal cancer in close family members, such as parents or siblings, can considerably raise your risk. The increased risk continues to rise based on how many family members have had the disease.

Genetic conditions such as Lynch syndrome (hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer) and familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) are associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer.

Lifestyle Factors

Lifestyle decisions greatly impact the chance of acquiring colon cancer. Understanding these aspects allows you to make better choices and reduce your risk. 

Here are some important lifestyle factors that influence colon cancer risk:

Alcohol

The consumption of alcohol has negative effects on your gut’s microbiome. It causes inflammation in the bowel and increases the risk of cancer. The breakdown of alcohol in the gastrointestinal tract produces acetaldehyde, a chemical compound that damages cells in the rectum and colon, making you more prone to cancers in those areas.

Physical Activity

Physical activity helps the body’s systems function at their optimum. A lack of regular physical activity is related to an increased risk of colon cancer. Exercise promotes a healthy weight, decreases inflammation, and strengthens the immune system. Regular physical activity can also help to speed up digestion, minimizing the amount of time harmful substances have contact with the intestinal lining.

Smoking

Long-term smoking of cigarettes damages the DNA of cells and tissues in the body as it introduces carcinogens into the body. Over time, abnormal cells start to grow, increasing the risk of cancer.

Obesity

A high body mass index (BMI)  puts you at a higher risk for developing colorectal cancer and other common cancers. ess body fat, particularly around the belly, has been related to elevated levels of insulin and insulin-like growth factors, both of which can promote cancer development. 

Diet

Modern diets do have a link to rectal and colon cancers because there is low fiber content, saturated fats, and high calories in these melas. 

  • High Consumption of Red and Processed Meats: 

A diet high in red meats and processed meats has been related to an increased risk of colon cancer. Cooking meat at high temperatures, such as grilling or frying, can create chemicals that may increase the risk of cancer.

  • Low Fiber Intake: 

A diet low in fiber and high in refined grains can raise the risk. Fiber keeps the digestive system healthy and promotes regular bowel movements, which can help prevent toxic compounds from building up in the colon.

  • Inadequate Amount of Fruits and Vegetables: 

Fruits and vegetables are high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, thus a diet low in these foods can increase the risk. These nutrients help fight cancer by lowering inflammation and preventing cell damage.

Other Factors

Personal History of Polyps/Cancer

If you have had colorectal cancer or polyps previously (especially when younger than 55 years old), then your risk factors increase. Additionally, previous radiation therapy to the abdomen or pelvic area for previous tumors may raise the risk of colorectal cancer.

Type 2 Diabetes

When there is too much insulin in the blood, the high sugar and blood content become a breeding ground for cancer polyps in the colon. High blood sugar that occurs with diabetes causes inflammation that increases cancer risk.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Health conditions that cause swelling and pain in the intestines, such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, cause inflammation in the bowels, making it easier for cancer to develop over time.

Inflammatory disease can increase the risk of colorectal cancer.

5 Top Steps In Colorectal Cancer Prevention

1. Maintain A Healthy Diet

The American Cancer Society recommends filling half of your plate at each meal with vegetables and fruits to lower your risk of cancer.

Consuming up to 34 g of fiber a day, depending on age, is enough to keep your colon healthy. Combine this with healthy proteins such as beans and nuts for a varied healthy diet full of antioxidants. Antioxidants help fight against cancer by fighting off free radicals caused by oxidative stress.

A healthy diet can lower the risk of colorectal cancer.

Vitamin D and Calcium

Foods like greens, fortified plant-based milks, beans, and nuts are great sources. If needed, you can also take a multivitamin. The recommended daily allowance is 1000 to 1200 mg a day for calcium and 1000 mg for vitamin D. 

2. Regular Colorectal Cancer Screening

The American Cancer Society states that it’s important to get regular cancer screening done, this ensures early detection. The earlier you detect the disease, the easier it is to treat it and recover. It is advised to start getting tested after 45 years old.  If you have a history of the disease or other high-risk factors then it is advised to start at a younger age and test more often.

Home Stool Test

Testing at home is a simple procedure, you will need to collect a small piece of your stool in a container and send it to the lab for testing. The lab will test for DNA changes or polyps and look for blood in the stool. This test can be done every three years.

Colonoscopy

Colonoscopies are done every 10 years at a hospital. You are sedated and a small flexible tube with a camera attached is inserted rectally and is maneuvered inside your colon. If any polyps are found they can be removed during the procedure as a precautionary measure.

3. No Smoking and Alcohol

Here’s a detailed look at how smoking and alcohol increase colon cancer risk, and why quitting is critical for prevention:

Smoking

Smoking increases your risk for other chronic diseases like emphysema, heart disease, and stroke.

1. Increased Cancer Risk: 

Smoking is a significant risk factor for a variety of malignancies, including colon cancer. The toxins in tobacco smoke can trigger genetic changes in colon cells, resulting in cancer.

2. Polyp Development: 

Smoking increases the risk of developing adenomatous polyps, which are precursors to colon cancer. If not discovered and treated, these polyps might develop into dangerous tumors.

3. Inflammation and Immune Suppression: 

Smoking promotes chronic inflammation and suppresses the immune system, both of which can contribute to cancer formation and progression.

4. Poor Prognosis: 

When diagnosed with colon cancer, smokers have a poorer prognosis and higher fatality rates than nonsmokers.

Alcohol Consumption

1. Increased Cancer Risk: 

Excessive alcohol use is linked to an increased risk of colon cancer. Alcohol can harm the colon’s lining, causing mutations that can lead to cancer.

2. Acetaldehyde Production: 

Alcohol metabolism produces acetaldehyde, a harmful chemical that can damage DNA and proteins, raising the risk of cancer.

3. Inflammation and Nutrient Absorption: 

Alcohol can create chronic inflammation in the gut, preventing the absorption of vital nutrients such as folate, which aids in DNA repair and cell division.

4. Exercise

Keeping active helps your body to function optimally and lowers disease risk. It also boosts one’s mental health and enhances your quality of life. Doing 30 minutes a day,150 minutes of moderate intensity, or 75 minutes of high-intensity exercise a week that you enjoy is all you need to maintain a healthy exercise routine, control your weight, and reduce inflammation.

A healthy weight lowers the risk for colorectal cancer.

5. Maintain a Healthy Weight

Figures provided by the American Cancer Society, show that excess body weight could be responsible for approximately 11% of malignancies in women and 5% of cancers in men in the United States. They have also stated that it could be the cause of 7% of all cancer deaths as well. Maintaining a healthy weight is an important part of lowering the risk of colon cancer. You may achieve and maintain a healthy weight by eating a well-balanced diet, exercising regularly, controlling your portion sizes, making behavioral changes, and tracking your progress.

Key Takeaways

In conclusion, you can prevent colon cancer by adopting a healthy lifestyle and getting regular medical screenings. By doing the top five strategies we’ve discussed, you can greatly minimize your risk and improve your overall health. Eat a lot of vegetables, fruits, and nuts for overall health and wellness. These are full of antioxidants, minerals, nutrients, and vitamins. Get plenty of exercise, quit smoking and drinking, and get screened regularly.

Cancer prevention is possible, your health is in your hands so start making healthy choices today. By including these steps in your daily routine, you can take control of your health and significantly lower your risk of colon cancer. Prevention is a powerful tool, and these actionable steps are designed to help you live a healthier and potentially cancer-free life. Take the first step today toward a brighter, healthier future.

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