The first time my grandmother found out she had colorectal cancer, she had done it all “right.” She went in for her routine colonoscopy and they found cancer. She had the affected area of her colon removed. She didn’t need any further treatment because she was screened and it was found early.
Her remission ended years later, the colon cancer had come back but she underwent the same treatment and faired well. In the end, she lost her battle, not with colon cancer, but with ovarian cancer at the age of 84. This is in dedication to her life, and applause for doing it right and getting screening.
What is your colon and why does it matter anyway?
Your colon is your large intestine. Its job is to remove water, salt, and some nutrients from the stool. This is where your healthy bacteria (and some unhealthy) live. They can be protective or harmful to your body if they get out of balance.
Its job is to prepare your waste for exit from your body after the food and particles have been broken down and nutrients distributed in the small intestine. It matters because it’s absolutely necessary and essential for waste to get out of our body.
What’s the point of a colonoscopy?
A colonoscopy is done to look for polyps and harmful growths in the large intestines to get you prevention or early treatment for colorectal cancer. Polyps are growths inside the large intestine along the walls. They can be benign, or cancerous.
Screening is recommended for people at age 50, and then every 5 years following the first screening, unless your doctor tells you it’s necessary to screen more frequently. This like family history, frequent or positive polyps make increase the frequency of future colonoscopies or other relevant testing. Why it this important? In 2012, over 134,000 men and women were diagnosed with colorectal cancer in the U.S. Check out this awesome information from the CDC. It talks about screening, when to screen and benefits of early screening.
If my grandmother were here today, she would be proud I was taking, this time, to share this information with you. She was a writer, and always so proud I could do the same. So let’s do this in honor of her, and any other mother, father, grandmother, or human that has had colorectal cancer. Take this challenge and work toward prevention.
5 Tips to Help Prevent Colon Cancer
We all do our best to prevent any type of cancer, and we can’t always make that happen, but we certainly can do our best to try.
Tip 1: Cut back on meat
As I posted last week on Meatless Monday, some meats are considered carcinogenic, and possibly carcinogenic to humans. Carcinogenic means cancer causing. That’s right folks. Some meat can be cancer causing. Where does the meat pass through? The intestines. Today is Monday! Let’s try it meatless again in honor of colorectal cancer awareness month.
Tip 2: Be aware of how you prepare
If you are choosing to still eat meat as part of your diet, it’s important to recognize there are further risks associated with eating meat after certain types of preparation. Frying, broiling, and grilling are the riskiest types of way to prepare your meat, in terms of cancer risk. The process of cooking creates further chemicals that can damage and have carcinogenic effects on the colon. Try baking the meat instead.
Tip 3: Beware of how much alcohol you consume (and, of course, don’t smoke)
Heavy alcohol use puts a strain on your colon. The colon has to help with waste elimination. And we all know too much drinking can also cause strain and bad effects elsewhere in the body. I don’t think I need to go into the risks of smoking. We are well aware of those today, and putting carcinogenic chemicals directly into your bloodstream via a cigarette or smoking only will increase your risk for all types of cancers.
Tip 4: Balancing fiber and fat
I am sure you have all seen the fiber drink commercials. And you might wonder what is all the fuss here? Having enough fiber helps protect and keep the colon functioning properly. Too little fiber causes colon strain and when combined with high fat this could be a situation for concern. It’s important to maintain balanced levels of fat, as well as fiber in your diet. What to eat? Low fat, or no fat foods, as well as leafy greens, beans, whole grains, nuts, and bran.
Tip 5: Eat more fruits and vegetables
A British study found that by increasing low levels of vegetables to 200 grams a day decreases the risk of colorectal cancer by 10 percent. Many fresh fruits and vegetables have higher fiber content, and if you look at tip 4 this will all make sense. Supplements here won’t cut it, it’s the actual processing of the fruits and vegetables in your intestines that provide the preventative effect.
Would you like another Meatless Monday recipe to get you going? Let’s try a vegetarian style chili. These are some of our favorites here. I also love this Skinny Mom site because it has terrific lower calorie meals if you are at that age, or had a child, and your metabolism isn’t the same. You can make a delicious, filling meal with few calories.
Let me know what you tried this week for meatless Monday?
Note: This article is not to be taken as medical advice or claims for cures. This is educational information. If you are unsure about what you have read, please consult your physician to see if it would be right for you. You should always consult a doctor before changing any health behaviors to be sure they are right for you.