Over a lifetime, colon cancer strikes 4% of women and 4.3% of men in the United States. In other words, one out of every 25-35 women or men will develop the disease.
You’re more at risk for colon cancer after age 50. However, colon cancer has increased in adults under 55 by 1% per year from 2008-2017.
No matter what your current age or family history, it’s never too early to consider colon health. The more risk factors you have, the more essential it is to address colon health as soon as possible.
At Colon and Rectal Surgeons of Greater Hartford, we’re devoted to keeping your colon healthy throughout your lifetime. That’s why our colorectal experts recommend regular colonoscopies to catch any problems early and cure them, too.
When and how often you need a colonoscopy varies by individual. Your doctor discusses your schedule during your consultation.
In the meantime, you should adopt the following colon-healthy habits to minimize your risk for polyps, cancer, and other problems with your colon.
Improve your diet
Mom and grandma were right: Vegetables are important. They’re not only filled with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, they also contain fiber that your gut bacteria absolutely love. Re-tool your diet to focus on:
- Fresh and steamed vegetables
- Low glycemic fruits
- Fermented foods like yogurt or sauerkraut
- Resistant starches, such as cooled (and reheated) rice
- Healthy fats such as avocados and olive oil
- Nuts and seeds
- Whole and sprouted grains
The main thing to remember is that a high-fiber diet protects your colon. You can look into the Mediterranean diet or DASH diet for ideas on how to eat well and help your colon, too.
Exercise, including resistance training, stretching, and cardio, improves your cardiovascular health, your lung capacity, invigorates your muscles and joints, and boosts your mood. And that’s just the start of the benefits brought by staying active throughout your day.
Working out to the point where you sweat confers extra benefits. Sweat detoxifies your body and raises your metabolism so you’re more likely to burn fat, rather than muscle. As long as your doctor OKs it, consider regular saunas, spa baths, or even hot showers to help your body sweat it out.
When you’re overweight, your entire body is stressed. But don’t stress about being overweight: If you change your diet and up your activity level, you should be able to lose enough weight to improve your health. If you need help, let us know, and we can recommend you for medically supervised weight loss.
Quit the bad stuff
You already know that cigarettes are bad for your lungs and heart. They’re also bad for your colon. Cigarette smoke dehydrates every organ in your body, including your skin (which explains why smokers have a lot of wrinkles) and, yes, your colon.
Alcohol consumption is detrimental to colon health, too. Alcohol is associated with an increased risk for many cancers. Although the official recommendation is one drink daily for women and two for men, recent research has determined that there’s no safe level of alcohol use.
Get regular colonoscopies
It’s impossible to overstate how important regular colonoscopies are for colon health. During your colonoscopy, we not only look for evidence of precancerous lesions, we remove abnormalities on the spot. A colonoscopy, therefore, isn’t just a screening tool, it’s a treatment, too.
Schedule your first, or next, colonoscopy by contacting our team at Colon and Rectal Surgeons of Greater Hartford at 860-242-8591 today. You can also schedule your appointment online at our Bloomfield, South Windsor, or Plainville, Connecticut, clinics.