Breaking the Silence: What You Need To Know About Colorectal Cancer And How To Prevent It
October 09, 2012
It’s not a topic most of us are anxious to discuss. To most of us, it’s an unfortunate thing that happens to other people. Statistics show that it can strike at any time though, and the best weapon in our arsenal is information. I’m talking about colorectal cancer.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, 52,857 Americans died of colorectal cancer in 2008. It’s one of the most commonly diagnosed types of cancer and is also the second-most lethal of those cancers, which affect both men and women. It’s also one of the most treatable when it’s detected early.
While research has long suggested that screening should begin at around the age of 50, new studies indicate that it may be a good idea to be tested sooner. As with most other cancers, a genetic predisposition should be a red flag. If a relative battled or died from cancer, one’s chances of getting it are increased.
Unfortunately, the number of younger people being diagnosed with colorectal cancer is on the rise. A study by the American Cancer Society found the incidence of colorectal cancer to be rising by a yearly rate of 5.2% in men and 5.6% in women aged 20-29. The skyrocketing obesity rate in our country is one possible culprit. The fast food industry, which has played a large role in increasing overall obesity, has also changed the way we think about food, and its impact is currently being evaluated.
Research does show that over-indulgence in highly-processed meats increases the odds of contracting colorectal cancer, while consumption of dairy products seems to have the opposite effect.
Also be on the lookout for the following symptoms:
- Abdominal Discomfort
- Change in Bowel Movements
- Blood in Stool
- Unexplained Fatigue, loss of appetite, or weight loss
So what can you do to lower your odds of colorectal cancer?
- The most important thing is to become familiar with your body. If you experience any sudden changes, see your doctor! Don’t try to explain away your symptoms. In fact, regular check-ups are probably your best deterrent. If something is found before the cancer has a chance to spread, treatment is much simpler and much more likely to be effective.
- Watch what you eat. Try to limit your consumption of highly processed foods, and be sure to work plenty of dairy into your diet.
- Get plenty of exercise
- Limit your alcohol consumption to less than 2 drinks a week
- Take Ginger. There is research to suggest that this herb inhibits the growth of cancer cells.
- Drink tea made from the Chinese herb ban zhi lian, also known as barbed skullcap. The herb is strong however, and shouldn’t be drunk on a daily basis.
- Add green tea to your diet.
Remember: Safeguarding your health means making better choices now. You’re making an investment in your future. Every journey begins with a single step. The Library provides access to a wealth of up-to-date health information, and it’s free to access with a Library card!
Amanda W. and Becky T.
North Independence Branch