With the staggering numbers related to colon cancer, everyone should be concerned with colon health and what they can do to prevent colon and rectal cancer. According to the National Cancer Institute, the number of newly diagnosed colon cancer cases for 2011 in the US is estimated to be just over 101,000 and nearly 40,000 for rectal cancer. The estimated number of deaths is nearly 50,000 for both combined. Those numbers are quite scary and they should be plenty of motivation for anyone to try and find ways to not become one of those statistics. Colon health should be on everyone’s mind as they get older. Knowing what you can do to help prevent or at the very least, catch colon cancer early in its development, is essential for lowering your risk of future health problems.

Colon cancer prevention combines a decreasing of the risk factors for cancer with an increase in protective measures to promote colon health. However, even with proper preventative measures, genetics and other unknown factors can still lead a person to develop cancer. This is why regular cancer screening is highly recommended, especially as we advance in age.

Avoiding Risk Factors

Smoking: In this day and age, just about everyone is aware of the savage long term effects that smoking has on the body. This is true of the colon as well. Quitting smoking substantially lowers your risk for a whole host of different cancers including colon cancer.

Alcohol: Drinking in moderation is fine and in some instances studies have shown that it may even have health benefits, but alcohol abuse can have extremely detrimental health effects. More than 3 alcoholic drinks per day can significantly increase one’s chances of developing colorectal cancer. Moderation, as with a lot of things in life, is key to good colon health.

Diet: A high fat, low fiber diet can be damaging to the colon and to overall health of the body. Obesity is another of the risk factors of colorectal cancer and a high fat diet should be addressed for better colon health.

There are certain risk factors, such as age and a family history of colon cancer that obviously cannot be avoided. This is where regular screening comes in. If you are in a high risk group, regular exams such as a colonoscopy, barium enema, CT scan and blood tests are important in maintaining colon health and catching any cancer early in its development.

Protective Measures

Exercise: Regular physical activity is essential to sustain as we get older. Exercise has many important health benefits and can have a great impact on promoting colon health. Not only does it increase oxygen levels in the blood, but it also helps combat obesity.

Diet: A diet high in fiber has wonderful benefits not only for the colon but for the entire digestive system, helping to ensure positive and regular bowel movements that remove toxins and helping to avoid fecal matter from staying too long in the colon. Whole grains, vegetables and fruits should be a regular part of a diet to optimize digestive health. Drinking plenty of fluids is also important for proper colon health. Less sugary, carbonated beverages and more juice or water will help the digestive system immensely in staying balanced and regular.

Regular Colon Exams: An exam like a colonoscopy is used, in part, to look for and remove colon polyps. Polyp removal is one of the best preventative measures to reduce the risk of colon cancer. Most colon polyps are not cancerous, but left inside the colon, over time, they could develop into colon cancer. Any polyp found during a colonoscopy usually can be removed right on the spot during the procedure, saving time and lowering cancer risk. Regular exams, especially if you are in a high risk group, are encouraged and are a great way to preserve colon health. While colonoscopy prep and a colonoscopy procedure are not the most fun experiences to go through, they are important. Consult with your doctor to discuss if you should have a colon exam and how often you should have one.

Colon Cleanse or Colonic: Clearing out of the colon on occasion of any built up fecal matter may have very helpful benefits on colon health. A bad diet may lead to an accumulation of undigested material that can linger in the digestive system. Using a natural colon cleansing product or going to a colonic specialist to alleviate any potential blockage may be extremely beneficial.

Aspirin: Some studies have shown that taking aspirin everyday for at least 5 years can lower the risk of colorectal cancer development and the risk of death from colorectal cancer. However, it also increases the risk of stomach bleeding and bleeding in other areas of the body. Never start a daily aspirin regimen before consulting with your doctor.

“A healthy colon is a happy colon.” This saying can be used with just about every organ in the body, but it still rings true. A healthy lifestyle along with regular and constant medical screening can make a world of difference in determining the quantity and quality of the years in your life. Be proactive, avoid risk factors and consult with your doctor to make sure your are doing everything you can to promote and maintain optimal colon health.