Colorectal cancer is a cancer of the rectum or the colon. According to estimates, more than 935,000 people lost their lives in 2020 due to colorectal cancer worldwide. There is no definite way to prevent colorectal cancer, however, some measures can be taken to reduce the risk of developing colorectal cancer.

It is noteworthy that almost all colorectal cancer starts as precancerous polyps either in the colon or rectum. These polyps or abnormal growths can be present in your colon for years before developing into cancer. It is possible that these polyps may not cause any symptoms. Therefore, one of the most effective ways to lower your risk of colorectal cancer is to get screened regularly after mid-40s.

Let us know more about how you can reduce your risk of colorectal cancer.

Risk Factors

A risk factor is anything that multiplies a person’s possibility of developing cancer or any other disease. Here are some of the risk factors associated with the growth of colorectal cancer.

  • Age

Colorectal cancer can affect teenagers and young adults, however, most colorectal cancers are diagnosed in people older than 40 years.

  • Gender

Men have a marginally higher risk of getting colorectal cancer than women.

  • Family history

A person’s odds of getting colorectal cancer is roughly doubled if they have a family history of cancer. The risk of developing colorectal cancer increases even more, if other close relatives have also developed colorectal cancer or first-degree relatives (parents, sisters, brothers, children) were diagnosed at a younger age.

  • Inherited risk

The risk is increased when certain gene variations linked to Hereditary Nonpolyposis Colon Cancer or Lynch Syndrome, Familial Adenomatous Polyposis, Gardner Syndrome, Juvenile Polyposis Syndrome, etc are inherited.

  • Smoking

Smoking cigarettes is linked to an increased danger of developing colorectal cancer.

  • Alcohol

Drinking more than 3 alcoholic beverages a day heightens the risk of colorectal cancer. It is also associated with the risk of developing large colorectal adenomas.

  • Obesity

Obesity is another risk factor linked to an increased risk of getting colorectal cancer and death from colorectal cancer.

  • Inflammatory bowel disease

People suffering from IBD may develop chronic inflammation of the large intestine. This further heightens the risk of developing colorectal cancer.

Prevention

  • Get screened for colorectal cancer

One of the most effective methods for preventing colorectal cancer is regular colorectal cancer screening. The practice of checking for cancer or pre-cancer in individuals who have no signs of the disease is termed screening. It generally takes 10 to 15 years for the early abnormal cells to grow into polyps, and then for them to develop into colorectal cancer. The majority of polyps may be identified and removed with routine screening before they develop into cancer. You should start getting examined for colorectal cancer if you’re 40 or older.

  • Exercise regularly

You may have a higher risk of getting colorectal cancer if you are not physically active. Routine physical activity can help to lower the risk. Limiting the amount of time you spend sitting and lying down may also help to reduce your risk. In both men and women, being overweight or obese increases the risk of colorectal cancer. Exercising regularly will also help in keeping your weight in check.

  • Avoid smoke

People who have smoked for a significant duration are more likely to get colon or rectal cancer and die from it, than nonsmokers. Quitting smoking may reduce your chance of colorectal cancer as well as a myriad of other cancers.

  • Avoid excessive alcohol

Several studies have linked greater alcohol use to an increased risk of colorectal cancer, particularly among males. If you do drink, you should limit yourself to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men.

  • Eat plenty of fruits, veggies & whole grains

The consumption of a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains has been associated with a reduced risk of colon and rectal cancer. Also, reduce your consumption of red meat (beef, pork, or lamb) as well as processed meats (hot dogs and other luncheon meats), which have been related to an enhanced risk of colorectal cancer.

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

People who frequently take aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) including ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) and naproxen (Aleve) had a reduced risk of colorectal cancer and polyps, according to several studies. Regular use of NSAIDs, on the other hand, can result in serious adverse effects such as stomach lining bleeding and blood clots that can lead to stroke or heart attack. Regular colorectal cancer screenings can not be replaced by taking aspirin or other NSAIDs. People should discuss the risks and advantages of taking aspirin on a regular basis with their doctor.

  • Combination hormone replacement therapy

Taking estrogen and progesterone after menopause has been proven in certain studies to lower a woman’s risk of colorectal cancer. However, among women who use combination hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and get colorectal cancer, the cancer is more likely to be advanced when diagnosed, and the chance of dying from colorectal cancer is not lessened. If you are thinking about taking menopausal hormone therapy, talk to your doctor about the risks and advantages.

According to research, food, weight, and exercise habits are significantly connected to the risk of colorectal cancer. Some of these lifestyle patterns may be difficult to change. Making the adjustments, however, can reduce the chance of several other forms of cancer, as well as other severe conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. Be sure to make the necessary changes in your life to lower your chance of developing colorectal cancer. Remember to consult a doctor in case of any doubts and concerns, or simply to ensure your lifestyle and health status are on the right track.

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