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This Month In Health
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  • Why Colon Cancer?
    Like other cancers, colon cancer begins when the DNA in healthy cells mutate, forming damaged, cancerous cells that grow, spread, and damage surrounding healthy tissue. Why the DNA in colon cells mutate is largely unknown, but there are things that may increase your likelihood of developing colon cancer. Read >>
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Health and Fitness News

Why Colon Cancer?

While the cause of colon cancer is usually unknown, there are things that increase your risk.

A section of the large intestine, the colon makes up the last part of the digestive system. It has the job of storing and fermenting waste, absorbing water and vitamins, and helping to maintain the body’s water balance.

Not counting skin cancers, colon cancer is the third most diagnosed cancer in men and women. Like other cancers, colon cancer begins when the DNA in healthy cells mutate, forming damaged, cancerous cells that grow, spread, and damage surrounding healthy tissue. Most colon cancers start as polyps—growths on the lining of the colon.

Why the DNA in colon cells mutate is largely unknown, but there are things that may increase your likelihood of developing colon cancer. Some you can control, others you can’t.

Things Out of Your Control

You can’t change your age, race, genetics, or health history, and they all affect your risk of colon cancer. Most people diagnosed with colon cancer are over the age of 50, but it’s seen in all ages.

For some reason, African-Americans and Jews of Eastern European descent are at greater risk for colon cancer than people of other races.

If someone in your family has had colon cancer, you’re at an increased risk as well. The more people you’re related to who’ve had colon cancer, the greater your chances for the disease. You may also have inherited syndromes or gene mutations that increase your risk.

On top of these risk factors, a personal history of polyps or chronic inflammatory colon diseases such as Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis also put you at a greater risk of cancer.

Things You Can Control

Though some things are out of your hand, you’re not completely helpless in the fight against colon cancer. A healthy lifestyle can go a long way in helping to prevent the dreaded disease. What you choose to eat, how you choose to manage stress, and how much exercise you choose to do all play a role in cancer prevention.

A Western diet that’s high in calories and unhealthy fats and low in fiber increases your likelihood of colon cancer. Eating a lot of red meat (beef, porck, liver, and lamb) and processed meats (hot dogs, bacon, sausage, and deli meats) has been shown to slightly increase your risk. Want to do all you can to ward off colon cancer? Eat plenty of fiber-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Watch how many calories you eat and limit the amount of red meat and processed meat you consume.

Sitting around all day is another lifestyle factor that increases your chances of developing colon cancer. Do you sit on your commute, sit at work, and sit on the couch all evening? It’s time to add more physical activity to your daily routine. Plan to get 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity exercise to stay healthy and keep your colon cancer-free.

Being overweight is not only a risk factor for colon cancer but also for dying of colon cancer. Carrying extra weight around your waistline is especially dangerous. A healthy diet and an active lifestyle are two things you can do to lose excess weight and maintain a healthy weight.

Many people turn to alcohol or smoking as a way to manage stress, but that also boosts their risk risk for colon cancer. Excessive alcohol use and long-term smoking are known risk factors of multiple types of cancer. Learn to manage your stress through healthy means for cancer prevention.