Chicago Health | Homepage
Simple steps to help prevent colon cancer

Simple steps to help prevent colon cancer

The Medicine Cabinet: Ask the Harvard Experts

By Howard LeWine, M.D.

Q: An older cousin was recently diagnosed with colon cancer. Does that put me at higher risk? What’s the best ways for me to prevent it?

A: If your cousin is the only family member that has had colon cancer, your risk is probably the same as someone without any family history. But just to be certain, it’s a good time to get details about all medical conditions in other family members. This information helps you and your doctor decide on what cancer screenings are right for you.

For people at average risk of colorectal cancer, screening should start at age 50. Most doctors recommend a colonoscopy once every 10 years. There are alternative ways to screen, such as periodic sigmoidoscopy and stool tests.

In addition, there a few ways everyone can help lower their risk of developing colorectal cancer.

Limit red and processed meat. The danger may stem from how we cook red meat — grilling or pan-frying at high temperatures releases cancer-promoting chemicals. The culprits in processed meats like salami, bacon, and hot dogs are probably the preservatives — nitrates and sulfites. These additives might themselves cause cancer or feed the gut bacteria that contribute to colorectal cancer development.

Get physical. Exercise is one of the best-researched ways to reduce the risk of colon cancer. Studies have consistently found that adults who are more active cut their risk by 30 percent to 40 percent compared with those who are sedentary.

Improve your diet. Getting your carbohydrates as whole grains and eating plenty of vegetables will help maintain a healthy weight and helps lower cancer risk. Instead of buying white bread, get 100 percent whole grain. Swap French fries for spinach, broccoli or green beans.

Make sure you get enough vitamin D. Studies suggest that low vitamin D levels can be associated with a higher risk of colon cancer. Consider taking 1,000 IU of vitamin D daily, especially during the winter months.

Don’t smoke. The connection between smoking and colon cancer is strong, particularly among female smokers.

(Howard LeWine, M.D. is an internist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School..)

(c) 2016 PRESIDENT AND FELLOWS OF HARVARD COLLEGE. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC.

Similar Articles

Make your diet more nutrient-dense

Make your diet more nutrient-dense

Environmental Nutrition By Matthew Kadey, M.S., R.D., Environmental Nutrition Newsletter There is only so much food you

Gluten related symptoms: Celiac disease or gluten sensitivity?

Gluten related symptoms: Celiac disease or gluten sensitivity?

The Medicine Cabinet: Ask the Harvard Experts By Howard LeWine, M.D. Q: I seem to be very

Start treatment now to prevent spring allergy symptoms

Start treatment now to prevent spring allergy symptoms

The Medicine Cabinet: Ask the Harvard Experts By Howard LeWine, M.D. Q: I have spring allergies. Every

Does your doctor’s gender matter?

Does your doctor’s gender matter?

By Robert H. Shmerling, M.D. Harvard Health Blog I've read medical research studies that surprised me. I've

10 tips to fight osteoporosis

10 tips to fight osteoporosis

Environmental Nutrition By Carrie Dennett, M.P.H., R.D.N., Environmental Nutrition Newsletter Because 70 percent of our bone destiny

Articles By Category

Family Health

In The Know

CH Lifestyle

May 2017
Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
April 30, 2017 May 1, 2017 May 2, 2017 May 3, 2017 May 4, 2017 May 5, 2017 May 6, 2017
May 7, 2017 May 8, 2017 May 9, 2017 May 10, 2017 May 11, 2017 May 12, 2017 May 13, 2017
May 14, 2017 May 15, 2017 May 16, 2017 May 17, 2017 May 18, 2017 May 19, 2017 May 20, 2017
May 21, 2017 May 22, 2017 May 23, 2017 May 24, 2017 May 25, 2017 May 26, 2017 May 27, 2017
May 28, 2017 May 29, 2017 May 30, 2017 May 31, 2017 June 1, 2017 June 2, 2017 June 3, 2017

Categories

Recent Comments

Fund a Cure Night | The Griffith Family Foundation

Fund a Cure Night | The Griffith Family Foundation

Enjoy a great night of baseball at Peoples Natural

VIEW ARTICLE
Swing for the fences in the fight to Sideline Pancreatic Cancer

Swing for the fences in the fight to Sideline Pancreatic Cancer

Enjoy a great night of baseball at Peoples Natural

VIEW ARTICLE

Archives