About one in 23 men and one in 25 women will develop colon or rectal cancer in their lifetime, but the American Cancer Society is encouraging people to help lower the statistic during Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.
ACS Senior Community Development Manager Kim Durst says there are six ways to protect your colorectal health: get screened for cancer starting at age 45 for those at an average risk; eat lots of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains; get regular exercise, watch your weight, don’t smoke, and limit alcohol. Though one risk factor you can’t alter is family history, which is why Durst stresses talking with your physician about screening options, “It’s just so important for early detection for prevention. I mean they’re saying that people 66 and younger are being diagnosed with cancer and it’s becoming more prevalent with colon cancer, and they’re saying that 49 new cases and 10 deaths per day are expected in people under age 50.”
Durst adds about one in three people who develop colon or rectal cancer have the family history, and those with prior conditions like Crohn’s disease and type 2 diabetes are also at a higher risk. It’s also important to watch out for symptoms of colorectal cancer, like a change in bowel habits, rectal bleeding, and unintended weight loss.