Colorectal cancer is third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in both men and women. But the death rate from colorectal cancer has been dropping in both men and women for several decades thanks to increased screenings and lifestyle changes.
“There are many things people can do to lower their risk of colorectal cancer,” said Katherine Freeman, MD,Catholic Health 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.”
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