Screening for colorectal cancer
Learn about colorectal cancer, its risk factors and the importance of routine screening.
Just as diet can have a positive or negative impact on the health of the heart, brain and bones, the overall health of your colon may be affected by what you eat.

The colon is a crucial part of the digestive system and many different conditions can cause it to malfunction. Some of them include inflammatory bowel diseases, such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease; diverticular disease; irritable bowel syndrome; and colorectal cancer.

Treatment for these conditions includes changes in diet and lifestyle, medications and / or surgical procedures.

Colorectal cancer is one of the most serious colon diseases. It is the third most common cancer and the third most deadly cancer in the United States. Among the risk factors for colon cancer is age (the risk increases from age 50); race (Blacks have the highest rates of colorectal cancer in the United States); family history; previous polyps; inflammatory bowel disease; smoking; and high alcohol consumption.

“There is also a strong correlation between obesity and the increased risk of colon cancer,”

A heavy connection
According to the National Cancer Institute, the link between obesity and increased risk of colon cancer may be due to multiple factors, including an increase in insulin levels in the blood, a condition that can occur more often in people obese. Increases in insulin and associated conditions such as insulin resistance may promote the development of some tumors, including those of the colon.

The American Cancer Society reports that the links between diet, weight, exercise and risk of colorectal cancer are among the strongest for all types of cancer. In fact, it is estimated that 50 to 75% of colorectal cancer cases can be prevented by lifestyle changes, such as a healthy diet, according to the Colon Cancer Foundation.

“Less than 10% of colon cancers are hereditary, which means a lot of lifestyle,” said Heather Rasmussen, PhD, registered dietitian in Rush. “Therefore, good nutrition is an important aspect of good colon health.”

Diet not to do
Diets rich in vegetables, fruits and whole grains and low in red and processed meats have been associated with a decreased risk of colon cancer, according to the ACS. To help promote good colon health, follow these five diet recommendations:

1. Limit your consumption of red meat and avoid processed meats.
According to the ACS, the risk of colon cancer increases by 15 to 20% if you consume 100 grams of red meat (the equivalent of a small hamburger) or 50 grams (the equivalent of a hot dog) of meat transformed, like sausages, bacon. or hot dogs, daily.

“You can still have some red meat – about two four-ounce servings of red meat a week,”However, it is best to limit processed meats to special treatment from time to time because they contain other components, such as preservatives, that can cause cancer.”

Less than 10% of colon cancers are hereditary, which largely means a way of life. Therefore, good nutrition is an important aspect of good colon health.
2. Hold the sugar.
Studies have shown that people with ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease often have a diet high in sugar and low in fiber.

Although sugar has not been directly associated with the progression of colon cancer, high-sugar foods are often high in calories and can lead to weight gain and obesity.
3. Increase your fiber intake.
A high fiber diet is beneficial for the overall health of the bowel and colon.

“On average, Americans consume about 13 grams of fiber a day, but we are supposed to consume between 25 and 35 grams,”

High-fiber fruits and vegetables such as raspberries, pears, apples, bananas, oranges, cooked artichokes, peas, broccoli and corn are the best way to add fiber to your diet. food. Whole grains and legumes are also good sources of fiber.

Fiber contributes to colon health by helping you stay regular and prevent constipation. This can then reduce your risk of developing hemorrhoids and small pockets in your colon that can lead to diverticular disease.

4. Drink your milk.
Recent studies have shown that calcium and vitamin D may be associated with a decreased risk of colorectal cancer. However, ACS does not recommend that men increase their calcium intake beyond the recommended amounts because there is an increased potential risk of prostate cancer associated with high calcium intake (greater than 2,000 milligrams per day). day).

Instead, men and women should be sure to consume the recommended daily dose of calcium: 1,000 to 1,300 milligrams a day (depending on their age) (three to four glasses of low-fat or fat-free milk).

Other dietary sources of calcium include dark leafy vegetables, such as spinach, kale and green cabbage.

5. Choose the grains wisely.
Whole grains are foods containing all their essential parts and natural nutrients. Dietary recommendations for Americans recommend that all adults consume at least half of their daily grain as whole grains, or about three to five servings.

Among the readily available whole grains are barley, quinoa, whole wheat flour, wild and brown rice, and oatmeal. These foods contain more vitamins, minerals, fiber, essential fatty acids, antioxidants and phytochemicals (natural compounds of plants that have a beneficial effect on the body), more respectful of the colon than their counterparts. refined grains, such as white flour and white rice.

Make screening a priority
Eating well may help keep your colon happy, but the most effective way to prevent colon cancer is screening. A colonoscopy is a structural examination of the colon that allows doctors to screen for and prevent colorectal cancer.

“Colonoscopy reduces the risk of developing colon cancer because we can detect and eliminate precancerous polyps during the test,” says Melson. “This test is unique for most screening tests because we can actually look for pre-cancerous growths and eliminate them during the procedure, which ultimately reduces the risk of developing a colon cancer in a person.”

In case of early detection, up to 95% of colorectal cancers are curable, according to the Colon Cancer Foundation. “Colon cancer is a largely treatable disease,” says Melson. “For colorectal cancer, we have a test, it is not complicated and it is extremely effective in preventing and contracting it early.

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