Vegetarian diet linked to lower colon cancer risk .image courtesy:Harvard Health Publications - Harvard University

It is a known fact that our unhealthy lifestyle choices are leading to the onset of various diseases. Health experts have been constantly highlighting the severe consequences that are brought about by sedentary lifestyles, unhealthy diet, drinking, smoking, lack of physical activities, so on and so forth.

You may want to make some healthy lifestyle changes as a recent study has found that doing so can keep colorectal cancer at bay.

According to a prospective cohort study that followed 55,000 middle-aged cancer-free people for 10 years, almost one-quarter of colorectal cancers might have been prevented with adherence to five lifestyle recommendations: not smoking, daily physical activity for at least 30 minutes, avoiding heavy drinking, eating a healthy diet, and controlling waist size, ‘less than 40 inches for men and 35 inches for women’.

In the hectic lives we live, maintaining a healthy lifestyle almost always takes a backseat. We look for convenience and very often ignore the discipline of eating and living healthy. In the study, the research team found that less than 10 per cent of all respondents stated they ate five or more servings of fruit, vegetables and grains per day and only about 25 per cent undertook at least 30 minutes of exercise four times per week.

These are shockingly poor numbers.

They additionally found that only 36% of respondents were up to date with current colorectal screening, according to the US Preventive Services Task Force guidelines.

Living an all-around healthy lifestyle may put you in good stead when it comes to preventing colorectal cancer.

Colorectal cancer (CRC), also known as Bowel cancer and Colon cancer, is the development of cancer from the colon or rectum (parts of the large intestine).A cancer is the abnormal growth of cells that have the ability to invade or spread to other parts of the body. Signs and symptoms colorectal cancer depend on the location of the tumor in the bowel,and whether it has spread elsewhere in the body (metastasis).

The classic warning signs include: worsening constipation,blood in the stool, decrease in stool caliber (thickness), loss of appetite, loss of weight, and nausea or vomiting in someone over 50 years old.While rectal bleeding or anemia are high-risk features in those over the age of 50, other commonly described symptoms including weight loss and change in bowel habit are typically only concerning if associated with bleeding.

Greater than 75–95% of colorectal cancer occurs in people with little or no genetic risk. Risk factors include older age, male gender, high intake of fat, alcohol, red meat, processed meats, obesity. smoking, and a lack of physical exercise.

So far, the strongest known dietary link to colon cancer is overeating ,consuming more calories than you need and storing it as excess body fat. Overweight people are more likely to develop colon cancer than people whose weight is normal. Belly fat adds additional risk. One study cited in the global report found a 5% increased risk of colon cancer per inch of waist circumference.

Approximately 10% of cases are linked to insufficient activity. The risk from alcohol appears to increase at greater than one drink per day. Drinking 5 glasses of water a day is linked to a decrease in the risk of colorectal cancer and adenomatous polyps.

The Cleveland Clinic colon cancer risk assessment survey  had more than 27,000 responses from around the world, highlights the modifiable risk factors, such as diet and lifestyle behaviours, reported by patients without a personal history of colorectal cancer and polyps.

“Colon cancer is a preventable disease. These results emphasise the known modifiable factors that can alter the risk,” said Carol Burke, a gastroenterologist at Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, US.

Burke and colleagues developed the online survey to provide respondents information about their colorectal cancer risk based upon self-reported personal and family history of colorectal cancer and polyps.

The survey generates suggestions for each participant to modify risk factors through screening as well as lifestyle and dietary changes.

The five-minute web-based questionnaire asks respondents about age, gender, ethnicity, height, weight, dietary factors, smoking history, physical activity, personal and family history of colorectal cancer or polyps, and adherence to screening.

Colon Cancer detection is procedure known as colonoscopy. Colonoscopy is an examination of the rectum and entire colon using a lighted instrument called a colonoscope, a longer version of the sigmoidoscope. (Sigmoidoscopy is a procedure where a doctor or nurse looks into the rectum and sigmoid colon, using an instrument called a sigmoidoscope).The test can be uncomfortable but it should not be painful. Before the test, you will need to take an enema to clean out the lower colon.

No matter what your weight, you can reduce your risk of colon cancer further by exercising more. Physical activity may do more than burn excess calories. It also increases metabolic efficiency and speeds food through the gut.

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