Reduce your risk of colon cancer

6 ways to help lower your risk for colorectal cancer.


Colorectal cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Most cases are found in adults ages 50 and above, but younger individuals can also be diagnosed.

The American Cancer Society recommends these six ways to protect your colorectal health.


Get screened for colorectal cancer.

The best way to reduce your risk of colorectal cancer is to get screened for colorectal cancer regularly, beginning at age 45. A screening can help find cancer before you have symptoms. Almost all colorectal cancers begin as abnormal growths in the colon or rectum, but they don’t always have symptoms. That’s why screenings are so important. Colorectal cancer screening can find abnormal growths so they can be removed before they turn into cancer. If you have a family history of colon cancer, your primary care physician might recommend testing at an earlier age.


Eat vegetables, fruits and whole grains.

Diets that are high in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains have been linked with a decreased risk of colon cancer. Try eating less red meat (beef, pork, or lamb) and processed meats (hot dogs and some luncheon meats), which have all been linked to an increased risk of colorectal cancer.


Exercise regularly.

If you are not physically active, you may have a greater chance of developing colon cancer. Increasing your activity may help reduce your risk. All Sharp Health Plan members have access to free one-on-one, telephone-based Best Health® coaching sessions, which are designed to help you reach your fitness goals.


Maintain a healthy weight.

Being overweight may increase your risk of colon cancer. Overall, the risk of cancer increases with the excess weight you gain and the longer you are overweight, the CDC says.


Don’t smoke.

Long-term smokers are more likely than non-smokers to develop colon cancer. If you do smoke, take advantage of community resources that can help you quit, like Best Health’s smoking cessation sessions.


Limit alcohol.

Alcohol use is linked with a higher risk of colon cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends no more than two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women.


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Page Last Updated: 6/17/2024
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