Cancer affects millions of people each year. However when it comes to colon cancer, about 45% of the people diagnosed with colon cancer could have prevented it through basic lifestyle habits and behaviors, including diet and exercise. Unless Americans begin changing these behaviors and start eating a healthier diet and exercising more, one in twenty could be diagnosed with some type of colorectal cancer, which includes cancers of the lower digestive tract such as the colon and rectum.
Lifestyle Changes to Lower the Risk
Lifestyle changes are difficult. After all, people spend their entire lives adopting the habits that they live with today. However it is possible to adopt new, healthier behaviors that can lower the risk of and even prevent being diagnosed with certain diseases – including colon cancer. Here are six primary methods you can use to help lower your risk of colon cancer.
Get Active – You don’t have to take up jogging several miles overnight, but moderate physical activity on a daily basis can help prevent the occurrence of colon cancer. Getting up and moving around during commercials while watching television or spending 5 to 10 minutes walking around for every hour working at a sedentary job makes a difference. Once that behavior is adopted it is easier to build up to more activity.
Eliminate Belly Fat – Excess body fat, especially around the belly, is linked to a higher risk for colon and rectal cancers. The way to combat belly fat is to get more active, such as with the tips above. However a healthy diet that includes smart portion sizes and smaller servings of foods that are high in calories will help. Some of these foods include juices from concentrate, nuts, cheese, and pre-packaged meats like lunch meat, hot dogs, and bologna which should be avoided at all costs. It also helps to cut back on desserts and sweets.
Increase Fiber Intake – A diet that is high in fiber can reduce the risk of developing colon cancer. Two-thirds of every plate should be filled with whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. It can also include beans or nuts. Only a maximum of one-third of each plate at mealtime should be filled with protein from animal sources, such as poultry, or lean red meat. Every 10 grams of fiber consumed reduces the risk of colon cancer by about 10 percent.
Avoid Processed Meats – Eating processed meat increases the risk of colon cancer more than twice than the risk from eating red meat alone. People should eat no more than 18 ounces of red meat each week, which is about half a dozen small, cooked portions of red meat. Processed meat, like hot dogs or bologna, should be avoided at all costs, as previously mentioned in the second tip. Chicken breast, peanut butter, and hummus are all healthier sources of protein, and many plants are high in protein as well.
Cut Back on Alcohol Intake – Drinking alcohol raises the risk of developing colon cancer, especially for men. Even though studies show that wine has certain health benefits for women, they too should be conscious of how much they drink. Men should consume no more than two drinks per day, and women should limit their intake to a single drink per day. For someone who already avoids alcohol consumption, the key is to not start in the first place.
Eat More Garlic – A diet that is rich in garlic reduces the risk of colon cancer. There are so many ways to add garlic to the daily diet, from taking garlic supplements in pill form to adding freshly chopped garlic to stews, vegetables, and dishes with fresh, roasted chicken. For best results wait about 15 minutes after chopping garlic cloves before using it for cooking purposes.
Why Lifestyle Changes are a Must
Lifestyle changes are not always easy, but they are imperative in the fight against colon cancer. That is because colorectal cancers, which are cancers of the colon and rectum, is the leading cause of deaths from cancer in both men and women combined. When combined with cancer screenings via a colonoscopy, colon cancer can be prevented because a colonoscopy will show initial signs such as polyps which present themselves before symptoms appear.