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Colorectal cancer is one of the more common forms of cancer in the United States, but there are several lifestyle changes that will allow individuals to lower their risk.

Statistics show that more than 150,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with colorectal cancer annually, with about 50,000 deaths from the disease each year. But doctors continue to push the message that changes to an individual’s lifestyle coupled with proper screenings would go a long way to lowering these figures.

“There are many things people can do to lower their risk of colorectal cancer,” said Katherine Freeman, MD, gastroenterologist at Catholic Health Ambulatory Care at Lake Success. “Changes to one’s lifestyle that include a proper diet and regular exercise play a major role in helping to avoid a significant health issue.”

From the standpoint of diet, Dr. Freeman recommends regular consumption of leafy greens, fruits and whole grains. An eating regimen that includes foods in these three groups have been linked with decreasing the risk of colorectal cancer. She also suggests eating lower amounts of red meats and processed meats.

Regular exercise is also important. Dr. Freeman notes that being active doesn’t need to be complicated and something as simple as a 30-minute daily walk is beneficial.

“There is a dual benefit to physical activity,” she said. “Not only does this lower cancer risks, but it also allows individuals to take control of their weight.”

Additionally, not smoking — or quitting smoking — and avoiding alcohol are both strongly encouraged. Both behaviors are linked to higher rates of colorectal cancer.

“Altering these lifestyle habits may be challenging at first, but they will have significant positive impacts in the long run,” Dr. Freeman said. “They will lower the risk of colorectal and other types of cancer along with other serious health issues such as heart disease and diabetes.”

Get more information on colorectal cancer treatment services offered by Catholic Health or call (844) 86-CANCER  (844-862-2623).

To find a Catholic Health physician near you, please call (866) MY-LI-DOC (866-695-4362).

Contact Catholic Health Ambulatory Care at Lake Success

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