The Importance of Colon Cancer Screening and Prevention: Advice for Older and Younger Adults

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In the United States today, colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death, with over 150,000 new cases diagnosed each year. Because the disease is more common among older adults, physicians have always recommended that annual screenings begin at age 50. However, in May 2018, the American Cancer Society announced that it was changing its recommendation: now, the society suggests that adults start getting screened at the age of 45. That’s because colorectal cancer is becoming increasingly common among younger adults who are under the age of 50. When these patients don’t get screened, it is less likely that colorectal cancer will be identified early, which can worsen the prognosis for the patient.


The specific reason for the increase in colorectal cancer rates among younger adults is not yet clear to scientists, but there are known risk factors that can increase your odds of being diagnosed with colorectal cancer at some point during your lifetime. One of the most significant is a family history of the disease, which you can’t control, but there are also modifiable risk factors, which you can. By making smart, targeted lifestyle choices–especially around diet and exercise–you can lower your risk. Whether you’re a younger or older adult, you may want to consider a strategy that combines earlier colorectal cancer screenings and key preventive measures, especially if you have a family history of colorectal cancer.


Dietary Strategies for Colon Cancer Prevention: What to Include and What to Remove


Studies show that your nutritional choices can play an important role in your lifetime risk of colorectal cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute, the odds of getting colorectal cancer are 30 percent higher for obese individuals than they are for the rest of the population, so it is essential to keep your overall calorie balance in check. At the same time, it’s important to note that the composition of your diet also makes a difference for your colorectal cancer risk. Specifically, high-fat and low-fiber diets are associated with the development of colorectal cancer.


In order to reduce your risk of colorectal cancer, you should aim to get no more than 30 percent of your daily calories come from fat. You should also make sure that the fat you do eat is coming from healthy sources, such as nuts, fatty fish, and olive oil. The other focus of your diet should be on fiber, which means filling your plate with fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Even though your body does not digest fiber, fiber feeds the “good” bacteria in your gut that keep your GI tract healthy–which can help reduce your risk of colorectal cancer. If you’re particularly concerned the impact of low fiber intake on your colorectal cancer risk, you may want to consider adding a prebiotic fiber supplement to your diet. Prebiotic fiber supplements are directly nourish the “good” bacteria in your GI tract in order to optimize the health of your gut microbiome.


Another dietary supplement that you may want to try is curcumin. Curcumin is the active compound in the spice turmeric, and it has long been known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities in the body, including the GI tract. Indeed, over the last two decades, multiple studies have suggested that curcumin may also play a chemopreventive role in the gut. Researchers have found that curcumin can both prevent and reduce cancer cell growth by acting on multiple molecular pathways, suggesting that it may be an ideal supplement for those who are concerned about their colorectal cancer risk. Because it is a natural compound derived from plants, curcumin is widely considered safe and has no major side effects. Plus, curcumin is a multifunctional compound, so the benefits go benefits go beyond the direct inhibition of tumor growth. In fact, there is some evidence to suggest that curcumin may help combat obesity and other metabolic conditions, thereby contributing even further to its efficacy as an anti-colorectal cancer option.


Lowering Your Risk of Colorectal Cancer with Physical Activity


It is clear that diet plays an important role in your risk for colorectal cancer, but it’s not the only factor that makes a difference. According to one study, both men and women who engage in high levels of physical activity are 40 to 50 percent less likely to be diagnosed with colorectal cancer than adults who engage in little or no physical activity. As you would expect, part of the reason why is that regular exercise reduces your risk of obesity. However, there may also be other factors at play. Preliminary studies suggest that regular exercise may directly reduce cancer risk through a variety of molecular mechanisms, such as changing bile secretion levels in your gut and improving the hormone profile of your GI tract. Although further evidence is needed to verify these early findings, it is clear that there are direct anti-cancer benefits to including regular exercise in your routine.


For younger adults, the bottom line is that it’s important to start thinking about colorectal prevention and screening early. For older adults, it’s never too late to change your diet and establish exercise habits that lower your risk. A chiropractor can be a great nutritional counselor and help you start a sustainable exercise routine–without getting injured or losing motivation.

Atlanta Chiropractic and Wellness is here to help you stay healthy for the long-term, no matter what your age. Contact us today for more information about all of our products and services!

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