March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Throughout the year, and especially during March, survivors, caregivers, and loved ones are empowered to share their stories, raise awareness, advocate for policy change, and support research.
According to the American Cancer Society, more than a million people in the United States count themselves as survivors. While early detection and treatments make a difference, there is more that can be done. Knowing the causes and risk factors help prevent colorectal cancer.
There are several risk factors we can control:
- Diet – Studies show that diets rich in red and processed meats may contribute to colorectal cancer risks. Also, how we prepare our proteins may increase our risk, too. Grilling, frying and high-temperature cooking release chemicals that may contribute to colorectal cancer risks. Diets full of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains reduce our risk of colon cancer as well as other health risks.
- Exercise – Sedentary lifestyles and obesity are two more risk factors for colorectal cancer. Once again, physical activity helps to reduce our risk factors for another disease.
- Smoking and heavy alcohol use – Quit the one and limit the other. Ask your physician if you need help with either one.
- Family history – While you can’t control this, you can know it. Report it to your primary care physician so if your family history shows an increased risk for you, she can decide if you need early screening. Knowledge is power.
Disclaimer: Health experts suggest that you talk to your doctor before you start, change or modify your medications, lifestyle or current treatment regimen.