There are many risk factors for colon cancer that are beyond your control—being over the age of 50, family
history of colorectal cancer, personal history of polyps, inflammatory intestinal conditions like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. There are, however, risk factors you can mitigate by making some simple and some not-so-simple changes to your lifestyle.
Susannah Spiess, MD, Gastroenterologist at NorthShore, encourages everyone to make these healthy lifestyle changes to help lower
the risk for colon cancer:
Eat a high-fiber, low-fat diet. Studies have shown that diets high in fat and lower in fiber may increase your risk for developing colon cancer. These same studies also indicate an increased risk for those who consume large quantities of
red meat regularly. Shift the focus of your diet away from meat, particularly red meat, and give fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains top billing on your plate.
Get up and move. This doesn’t just mean 30 minutes of exercise a day. Get up and move throughout the day. An inactive, sedentary lifestyle can increase your risk of developing colon cancer. If you spend most of your day sitting behind a
desk, stand up and move every 20 minutes or whenever possible.
Lose weight. Changing your diet and increasing your activity level will work wonders on your waistline as well. Obesity significantly increases one’s risk for not only developing colon cancer but also dying from the disease if diagnosed.
Break the habit. It’s a terribly unhealthy habit. Smoking increases your risk for a number of serious health issues, from lung cancer and heart disease to stroke and, you guessed it, colon cancer. The time to break the habit is now.
Cut back. The excessive consumption of alcohol raises your risk for several types of cancers, including cancer of the colon and rectum. Monitor your daily and weekly consumption of alcohol and ensure that it is no more than 14 units of alcohol
per week and no more than three in any single day.
Get a colonoscopy. While adopting these lifestyle changes could reduce one’s risk for colon cancer, screening colonoscopy is the only proven method of preventing the disease.
Have you made an appointment to get your first colonoscopy? Find out more
Smoking is an unhealthy habit that can be hard to break. While we’ve all heard of the many ways quitting can be made possible—cold turkey, medications, nicotine patches and gum, or therapy—it often comes down to one’s determination and ability to make changes.
It is important to understand that it is never too late to quit smoking. Even if you’ve tried to quit before and haven’t accomplished it, you can still find success quitting in the future. Stacy Raviv, MD, a NorthShore pulmonologist, gives her insight on
how quitting can improve your health:
Have you tried to quit smoking? What methods worked for you? What didn’t?