March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, a perfect time to take steps to prevent this disease.
As many as 60% of the more than 50,000 deaths from colorectal cancer each year could be avoided if everyone age 50 or older were screened regularly, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Receive Regular Screenings
Screening tests include:
- flexible sigmoidoscopy
- CT colonography
- double-contrast barium enema
These help prevent colorectal cancer because they find polyps. These pieces of swollen or overdeveloped membrane that sometimes grow inside the colon can be removed before they become cancerous.
Don't Rely on Early Detection
Doctors say that understanding your family history also is important. If any relatives have had polyps removed, take that as a sign to talk with your doctor about undergoing a screening test — or revamping your diet and exercise regime.
Experts note that colon cancer is common in Western cultures where people consume more processed foods and animal products. Take measures to improve your diet and nutrition:
- Maintain your intestinal health by eating foods containing insoluble fiber (whole wheat, vegetables, nuts), which provide roughage.
- Add soluble fiber through foods such as apples, carrots, whole oats, oatmeal, barley, beans, peas, and citrus fruits.
- Ingest foods with cancer-fighting antioxidants, such as vitamins C and D, zinc and magnesium (oranges, grapefruits, red grapes, figs, avocados, broccoli, tomatoes, and sweet potatoes).
- Sip green or black tea for added antioxidants.
- Eat fewer processed meats, red meat, and processed or refined foods.
- Consume more foods with omega fatty acids, such as fish, nuts and olive oil.
For more information on colon and rectal cancer, join St. Petersburg General Hospital for a free community lecture on Friday, March 22. Learn about the causes, early detection, support resources, treatment, and more. Click here to register or call (888) 741-5122.