March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness month, a disease that will be diagnosed in 135,000 Americans this year and kill 50,200.

Prevention is key in colorectal cancer

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March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness month, a disease that will be diagnosed in 135,000 Americans this year and kill 50,200. It is the third more common cancer in the U.S. and the second cause of cancer deaths. If folks did the colorectal cancer screening as recommended in timely fashion by their doctors, six of 10 deaths from this cancer would be prevented.

Non-controllable risk factors for colorectal cancer:

  • Being 50 years of age and older
  • Family history of colorectal cancer
  • Personal history of Crohn’s disease or Ulcerative Colitis

In-your-control risk factors for colorectal cancer:

  • Smoking
  • Alcohol
  • Obesity
  • Being inactive or without regular exercise

There are symptoms of colorectal cancer:

  • Change in bowel habits, including diarrhea or constipation
  • Abdominal bloating and cramping
  • Unexplained weight loss

Prevention of colorectal cancers is the key. Stay up on your yearly appointments with your doctor, and then as suggested, get the cancer screening done. Usually screening starts at age 50 unless there is a family history and then it might be suggested at any earlier age.

Now some risk factors are out of your control, but you are in the driver seat for so many of those risks:

  • Be modest with alcohol intake. If you choose to drink, no more than one drink daily for men and two drinks for women.
  • Enjoy 30-minutes of exercise or activity daily. 
  • Get to and maintain a healthy weight and waistline.
  • Have meals centered on the less processed fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Go easy on red meats and processed meats.
  • No smoking.

There is great colorectal cancer prevention information at www.cancer.org.

Recipes to try:

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About the Author

Rita Smith is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She's been working in the field of nutrition and disease prevention for more than 35 years and currently works at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, Va. Each week, Rita provides nutrition counseling to clients who have a variety of disorders or diseases including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, gastroparesis and weight management. For these clients, food choices can help them manage their health problems.