March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

In the US, colorectal cancer is the 4th most common cancer in adults and is the 2nd most common cause of death. colorectal cancer affects people over the age of 50 and can occur in people of all cultures and ethnicity. Over the past few decades, there have been several screening tests developed to help detect the cancer early. Experts in colorectal surgery indicate that if all individuals over the age of 50 are regularly screened then more than 60% of deaths from colorectal cancer could be prevented. Because March is colorectal cancer awareness month, local communities, hospitals, and healthcare professionals are now encouraging people to get screened for colorectal cancer.

Some of the screening tests for colorectal cancer that are available include 1) colonoscopy which looks at the entire colon with a flexible scope 2) sigmoidoscopy which looks at the left half of the colon and rectum with a flexible scope and 3) the blood in stool test. Both colonoscopy and sigmoidoscopy allow the healthcare provider to not only see any lesion(s) in the colon but also take images and biopsies.

Colonoscopy is the ideal screening test for all individuals as it can assess the entire colon. Today the American College of Surgeons recommends that people have their first colonoscopy at age 50. If the first screening colonoscopy is negative, then the next one should be done in ten years. Colonoscopy screening is recommended for people in-between ages 50-74.

Colonoscopy is done under mild sedation and takes about 20-40 minutes. The test is done as an outpatient and one can resume daily living activities on the same day.

However, colorectal awareness during the month of March is not only to generate awareness of the available screening tests but also to ensure the public adopts a healthy lifestyle.

One of the best ways to prevent colorectal cancer is to eat a healthy diet that consists of fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, cereals, and whole grains. These foods are rich in antioxidants and can help scavenge free radicals that promote cancer.

One should eat less saturated fat and lean meat. High fat consumption is known to be a contributor to the development of colorectal cancer and thus, should be avoided.

Two other substances that not only strengthen bone but also prevent colorectal cancer are calcium and vitamin D; these substances can be obtained from dairy foods and a variety of vegetables.

Increasing fiber content of your diet is a powerful method of fighting colorectal cancer. Fiber also helps prevent constipation and regulates bowel movements.

To further lower your chances of colorectal cancer discontinue smoking and limit the intake of alcohol.

Finally, you must exercise. Obesity has been associated with a number of cancers including the colon. The type of exercise you do is not important as long as you remain active. Exercise must be done on a regular basis- if you are just starting out- walking is a great form of exercise.

Colorectal Cancer Awareness month is an annual event throughout north America- the focus is to increase awareness and educate the public of this cancer.

Contributor: Kim Farmer of Mile High Fitness & Wellness. Mile High Fitness & Wellness offers in-home personal training and corporate wellness solutions.  Visit  www.milehighfitness.com or email inquiries@milehighfitness.com

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