Colon cancer is the third most common form of cancer diagnosed in Ontario. It is also the third most common cause of cancer death among Ontario men and women.
With these statistics in mind, have you ever wondered how your lifestyle affects your risk of colon cancer?
There are certain factors, like age and family history, which can increase our risk for developing colon cancer. These are referred to as non-modifiable risk factors, as they cannot be changed. The good news is that there are some risk factors that we can control – the modifiable risk factors.
Kelly-Jo Gillis, Manager of Preventive Health Services at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, shared eight modifiable lifestyle tips to help reduce our risk of developing colon cancer.
Be a healthy weight
Maintaining a healthy weight is essential to good overall health and may be one of the most important ways to protect yourself from cancer throughout your life.
Being physically active in every day life can help decrease your risk of colon cancer. According to the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology, adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity each week. Any amount of activity can make a difference; you can start small and increase your amount of activity each day.
Eat your fruits, vegetables and whole grains
Evidence has shown that eating foods like fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains play a role in preventing cancer because these foods are high in fibre and essential nutrients. By following recommendations from Canada’s Food Guide, this will ensure that you are eating the appropriate amount of plant-based foods each day.
Skip the junk food
Fast foods and other processed foods are typically high in fats, starches and sugars. Although they can be more convenient, fast food and other common processed foods such as chocolate bars, chips, cookies, sugary cereals and fried foods should be consumed in moderation. Instead, fuel up on non- or minimally processed foods; you will feel better eating nutritious foods.
Limit consumption of red meat and processed meat
There is evidence that eating red or processed meats increases your risk of colon cancer. Eat little, if any processed meat (deli meat, hot dogs, sausages, etc.) and limit the amount of red meat you consume (beef, pork, lamb, etc.).
Limit consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks
Reducing the number of sports drinks, pop, fruit juice, and other sugary beverages can help to decrease your risk of colon cancer. Make water your drink of choice.
Limit your alcohol consumption
When it comes to cancer prevention, there is no safe amount of alcohol. However, if you do decide to drink alcohol, limit your consumption to one drink a day for women and no more than two drinks a day for men.
Quitting smoking is the best thing you can do for your overall health and to reduce your risk of cancer. Tobacco use is not only linked to lung cancer, but many other types of cancer including colon. It’s never too late to benefit from becoming smoke-free.
March is colon cancer awareness month. Learn more about your personal risk for colon cancer and how you can prevent colon cancer by visiting www.mycanceriq.ca