Of the 140,000 men and women who develop colorectal cancer each year, 40,000 will succumb to this disease.
While there’s no proven, completely fail proof method of cancer prevention, there are ways in which you can reduce your risk. One of these methods is by identifying your personal risk factors and making changes to lower these factors.
At Texarkana Emergency Center, we want our patients to be completely informed about their personal risk. Keep reading to learn more about risk factors you should be considering during this Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.
- Diet. Having a diet with lots of red meats, like pork, beef and lamb, can significantly increase your risk of colorectal cancer. Eating meats that are overly processed, like hot dogs and chorizo, has also been shown to have adverse effects. Try to stick with lean, white meats, like chicken and fish, and save the hotdogs for a ballpark game.
- Smoking. It’s no surprise that colorectal cancer can be caused by smoking, especially considering how smoking can leave carcinogenic tobacco byproducts in your body’s tissues. It also increases your risk for a whole other host of cancers including lung, throat, breast and others. Stay away from e-cigarettes, or “vaping,” and smoking hookah as well. They’re also incredibly harmful. Visit this page to find resources on how you can quit smoking.
- Physical Inactivity and Obesity. Those who are significantly overweight or obese for most of their lives have an increased risk, especially if you have a large waistline. Being obese and having minimum physical activity seems to affect men more than women in terms of risk, but it can raise your chances no matter your gender.
- Gender. Men are more likely to develop colorectal cancer than women. While this isn’t something you can change as easily as your diet, knowing that you may be at an increased risk allows you to formulate the most effective long term health plan for you.
- Heavy Alcohol Use. If you enjoy the occasional glass of red wine, there’s no need to worry, but heavy alcohol use can significantly increase your personal risk. For men, this means 3 or more drinks at least a few times each week. For women, 2 or more drinks at least a few times each week. If you’re concerned, discuss your alcohol intake with your physician.
- Family History & Inherited Mutations. Most people diagnosed with colorectal cancer won’t have any family history, but as many as 1 in 5 individuals diagnosed with this disease will. It’s important to learn more about your familial risk – any direct relation, like a mother, father, sister or brother, should be a reason for concern, especially if they’re diagnosed before they’re 45 years old. In some cases, around 5 – 10% of all colorectal cancers, the individual has an inherited gene mutation that causes the cancer. The most common of these mutations are Familial Adenomatous Polyposis (FAP) and Lynch Syndrome (hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer, or HNPCC). These mutations tend to cause cancers early in life so it’s important to discuss any concerns you have with your physician, no matter your age.
It’s important to remember that these are only risk factors and many individuals have one or more of these and never develop colorectal cancer. Reducing your risk of this disease is beneficial to your total health and well-being, not just in preventing colorectal cancer.
Want to learn more about personal risk and prevention? Visit this link.
Nutex Health, Inc. supports you and your family’s health. Come visit Texarkana Emergency Center or any one of our concierge-level freestanding facilities for the emergency care you deserve, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.