Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer affecting American men and women. The American Cancer Society estimates over 145,000 new cases of colorectal cancer will be diagnosed in 2005 alone, with more than 56,000 deaths.
Yet, colorectal cancer is one of the easier cancers to treat when detected early. It’s important to have regular colorectal cancer screenings to detect polyps (pre-cancerous cell masses) and cancerous cells early when they’re easier to remove and treat.
Colorectal cancer develops slowly, over a period of years. Diet, lifestyle and other factors can increase or decrease your risk of getting the disease. Learn your risks now, and talk to your doctor about how to reduce them.
Having a parent, sibling or child with colorectal cancer, or any one of a number of pre-cancerous conditions, means you also have a higher risk. If your family has a history of colorectal cancer, you should be tested regularly. Ask your doctor how often.
Also, if you’ve previously had colorectal cancer—even if it was completely removed—your risk is higher for getting it again.
Jews of Eastern European background also have a higher risk for colorectal cancer.
More than 90% of colorectal cancer occurs in people over 50. Talk to your doctor about regular screenings beginning at that age.
Diets high in fat, especially animal fats, can increase your risk for colorectal cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends eating at least five servings of fruits and vegetables every day and limiting your intake of fatty foods.
Being inactive and overweight can increase your risks as well. To lower your risk and increase your overall health, add 30 minutes of moderate activity to your daily routine.
Smoking is one of the leading causes of cancer death in the world today. And not just lung cancer, but a host of other cancers, too, including colorectal cancer. If you smoke, you should quit.
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