Success! Colon Cancer Death Rates Are Finally Dropping
It's a win for gastroenterologists and oncologists across the U.S.. They've collectively brought down death rates from colon cancer.
Colorectal cancer detection and diligent removal of precancerous polyps by doctors throughout the nation have led to a cumulative decrease in fatalities from colon cancer. That's truly amazing given that non-chemotherapy preventative measures are actually working to curb a particular cancer.
Here's the takeaway for you:
Get a colonoscopy annually. If your family has a history of gastrointestinal cancers, or if your doctor has found polyps in your GI tract before, it's important that you get a routine colonoscopy.
Lose weight. There's a catch to the new findings – fatalities from colon cancer dropped for people aged 50 and older. But, colon cancer incidence has risen for people younger than 50! Researchers blame the obesity epidemic for this increase. What does that mean? If you're overweight, lose weight – but also get screened annually for precancerous signs and symptoms of gastrointestinal cancer.
Quit smoking and get more exercise. According to Washington University in St. Louis's Siteman Cancer Center, smoking can increase your risk for colon cancer (and lung cancer too). Getting exercise has also been found to lower your risk for cancer (among other great health benefits).
Don't drink alcohol. Siteman Cancer Center says that alcohol consumption, even at low levels, can increase your risk for colon cancer.
Limit processed foods. Red meat and processed meat and foods have been found to increase your risk of cancer, but they probably are more dangerous for your gastrointestinal health because your GI tract makes physical contact with them and has to process them before the rest of your body interacts with them.
Take calcium and vitamin D supplements. Siteman Cancer Center also says that some researchers found that getting your daily calcium and vitamin D can lower your risk for colon cancer. They recommend getting 1,000 milligrams of calcium and 1,000 IU of vitamin D everyday. They also advise you to take a multivitamin to get more colon cancer-fighting helpers.
Get other diagnostic procedures done within a decade. If you do have a family history of gastrointestinal cancers or have been diagnosed with polyps, it's best to ask your doctor about other diagnostic procedures, like a sigmoidoscopy.
It's truly great that doctors have been able to lower cancer rates – but that doesn't mean the victory is ubiquitous. If you're younger than 50, colon cancer is on the rise for your age range. Make sure to take these precautions and talk to your doctor about screening options.