Our colon is an amazing part of the human body. It has an array of duties from absorbing water and nutrients from our foods so they be transported to our cells, to acting as the major toxin and elimination collector from the food and substances we ingest. The colon is part of the intestines, and if you spread it out, it would reach 6 feet. The waste gathered in the colon is transported to the rectum where we can eliminate it.
Colon Cancer can occur in this hard working organ and colon cancer affects about 7% of Americans. The good news is that this type of cancer can be cured if found early enough. Scientists have not been able to determine exactly how people get colon cancer, but they have identified some risk factors.
Age: While anyone can get colon cancer, it is more common in individuals over age 50.
Bowel Disease: If you have a history of bowel diseases such as Crohns, ulcerative colitis, polyps, you are at a higher risk of obtaining colon cancer.
Diet: a high fat diet and lack of exercise can affect your risk.
Ethnic Background: Jews from Eastern European descent have a high rate of colon cancer. African Americans and Hispanics have a higher death rate, which could be in part because of poor access to health care and colon cancer screening. Also family history plays a part. If you have a family member who has had colon cancer or polyps, you are in a higher risk category.
Smoking and Alcohol: Yep….neither are good for you and can add to your risk.
What are the Warning Signs of Colon Cancer?
- Change in bowel habits
- Feeling bloated, constipated or feeling like your bowel is not completely empty
- Narrow stools
- Excessive gas, bloating, fullness or cramps
- Weight loss for no apparent reason
- Feeling tired all the time
Make sure you get regular health care examinations by your physician, and see them immediately if you notice any of the above symptoms.
Let’s talk about the risk factors we cannot control.
Age: The years pass no matter what we do! As we get older, our bodies have been exposed to more toxins, and the wear and tear on our bodies can increase our risk Colon Cancer is found in older adults over 50 more often than in younger people, but like we stated before, no one is immune.
Gender: women have a higher risk of developing Colon Cancer.
Polyps: have you scheduled that colonoscopy yet? The colonoscopy is an examination of part of our bowel where polyp’s can form. Having polyps is considered a risk factor. Early detection through the screenings recommended by your Dr. can help you avoid cancer later.
Personal history: looking at how your general health is can sway the colon cancer pendulum. Having a prior experience with other types of cancer will increase your risk of colon cancer. Also, your family history plays an important role here. If someone in your immediate family had colon cancer, your risk increases as well.
Diet- Love those double whoppers, French fries and chocolate shakes? Well, eating a diet high in fat and low in fiber will add to your risk.
Perhaps you are a little overwhelmed by the things we have no control over. Let’s consider the things we can control.
Diet: Lose the Fat! Add lots of fiber to your diet, and you are taking a very positive step towards overall colon health.
Exercise: get that body moving! Losing extra weight and toning our muscles is like building a fortress against the big C.
Don’t Smoke! Tobacco is chock-full of nasty chemicals. Do you really want to be inhaling that crap into your lungs and body system?
Don’t drink too much alcohol! While a glass of red wine is good for you, a bottle of wine is not. Practice moderation.
Decrease Stress: Learning to cope with stress in our lives is a fantastic way to shore up our immune system. Simple things like developing an attitude of gratitude, meditation, and even spending a few minutes each day in quiet contemplation can keep a harmonious life force around us.
Taking control over the things we can will help us be better balanced, and better equipped to keep our body healthy, and most importantly free from colon cancer.