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But there is plenty more you can do to protect yourself from health problems. Protecting your colon is important because, except for skin cancers, colorectal cancer is the third most common type of cancer in the U.S.
What all can you do to protect yourself from colon cancer? Start with these five things, says the Mayo Clinic.
1. Get a Colon Cancer Screening The growing number of people getting preventive screenings has brought the colorectal cancer death rates down. That shows that screening really does work. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommend that everyone 45 to 75 years old get a screening. If you have certain health problems or a family history of colon cancer, your doctor may want to start testing you for colon cancer earlier. Learn about the different options for colon cancer screening.
2. Move Your BodyExercise offers many benefits, from helping your heart to managing your weight. Research shows it may also lower your chance of getting some types of cancer, like colon cancer. A good goal is 30 minutes of moderate exercise on most days.
3. Eat Your Vegetables and Limit Processed MeatsGetting enough fiber is an important part of a healthy colon. Eat higher fiber foods like whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Limit how much meat you eat, especially processed meats. Limit unhealthy fats like the fat found in fried foods. But eat healthy fats like those found in olive oil, avocados, nuts and salmon.
4. Watch Your WeightExtra pounds can raise your chance of colon and other cancers. If you need to lose a few pounds, start by talking to your doctor. Your health care provider can be a great resource to help get you started on the right plan for you.
5. Don’t Smoke and Limit or Avoid AlcoholIf you choose to drink alcohol, do so moderately. That means no more than one drink a day for women or two drinks a day for men. And if you smoke, quit. Your doctor can offer tips or guide you to a program to help you stop.
Age, risk factors and family medical history can impact the timing of your cancer screening tests and how they’re covered. Be sure to tell your doctor if your parents, siblings or children have colon cancer.
Also ask your doctor:
Originally published 2/15/2023; Revised 2024
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