March is National Colon Cancer Awareness Month. Colon cancer, also referred to as colorectal cancer, is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death. Since 2000, March has been the official month to create awareness about colon cancer detection, early screening, prevention and treatment.
When discovered early, colon cancer is highly treatable. About 90% of new cases are found in people aged 50 or older, and it affects both men and women. Colorectal cancer takes more than 50,000 lives each year—that’s why it’s important to spread the word about the importance of regular screening and early detection.
With regular screenings beginning at age 50, colon cancer can be found and treated early. Most colorectal cancers begin as polyps. When discovered in the earliest stages, the cancer is easier to treat and the survival rate increases. There are currently more than 1 million colorectal cancer survivors in the U.S. today.
Although the exact cause of colorectal cancer is unknown, research shows that people with certain risk factors are more likely to develop it. These risks include:
• Over age 50
• Family history
• Personal history of cancer
• Ulcerative colitis / Crohn’s disease
• Lifestyle (smoking, inactivity, obesity)
• Poor nutrition
Diet can play a significant role in the development of colon cancer. While more research is still needed, studies suggest that diets high in red meat and fat, and low in calcium, folate, fiber, and fresh fruits and vegetables may increase risk of colon cancer. John Hopkins Medical Center reports that diet and proper nutrition are vital tools in the fight against colon cancer. Diet and lifestyle recommendations include:
• Eating brightly colored fruits and vegetables (fiber)
• Eating fresh fish 1-3 times per week (omega-3)
• Limiting red meat
• Avoiding saturated fats
• Maintaining a healthy body weight
• Being physically active
• Avoiding alcohol and tobacco
Cancer-fighting antioxidant foods can be an important tool in the fight against cancer, both preventatively and during treatment. Because people who have colon cancer are at an increased risk of developing the disease again, it is important to have regular checkups. It is also important to talk to your family about their increased risk and screening.
HealthyYOU Vending is dedicated to raising awareness during National Colon Cancer Awareness Month. Together, we can work toward the goal of “80 by 2018”: Eighty percent screened for colorectal cancer by 2018. Learn more at www.ccalliance.org.
This article is not intended as medical advice. Please consult your doctor or professional healthcare provider for all questions and treatment about cancer and all medical matters.