Do you know your risk for colorectal cancer?

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March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, and although our backsides may not be something we like talking about, it’s extremely important to have a conversation with your doctor about your risk. Colorectal cancer can be a very deadly disease, but when found early, it is very treatable.

Among cancers that affect both men and women, colorectal cancer is the second leading cancer killer in the United States. But it doesn’t have to be this way. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, if everyone aged 50 years or older had regular screenings, at least 60% of deaths from colorectal cancer could be prevented.

Did you know that 1 in 20 Americans will be diagnosed with cancer of the colon or rectum in their lifetime? It’s important to know the risk factors associated with colorectal cancer so you know how to protect yourself. The following risk factors may increase a person’s risk of developing colorectal cancer:

  • Older age – 9 out of 10 cases of colorectal cancer occur in individuals aged 50 and older.
  • Personal or family history of colorectal polyps or cancer
  • Personal history of inflammatory bowel disease
  • Race/ethnicity – African Americans have an increased risk.
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • A diet high in red and processed meats
  • Physical inactivity
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Heavy alcohol use

Although some risk factors are non-modifiable, many are lifestyle behaviors that can be changed. Reducing your risk for colorectal cancer can also protect you against many other cancers and diseases.

Here are some tips for reducing your risk:

  1. Talk to your doctor about recommended screenings and immunizations.
  2. Maintain a healthy weight.
  3. Adopt a physically active lifestyle.
  4. Consume a healthy diet with an emphasis on plant sources.
  5. Limit your consumption of alcoholic beverages.
  6. Consume the recommended levels of calcium.
  7. Avoid tobacco products.

If you’re 50 years old or older and you want to know your risk click here to take the Colorectal Cancer Risk Assessment.

Photo Credit: American Cancer Society

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