Why Do I Need A Colonoscopy?
Thursday, March 2, 2023
It’s not something we like to talk about – unless you’re a kid who likes bathroom humor – but it’s an important topic. Paying attention to our bowel movement health and getting recommended colonoscopies can help find cancer earlier.
While colon cancer screenings are effective tools for helping detect and prevent cancer deaths, diet and weight control can help prevent it in the first place. A diet rich in vegetables and fruits and maintaining a normal weight appears to help protect against colon cancer, as well.
Here are recommendations from the American Cancer Society:
Weight: While being overweight or obese increases the risk of colorectal cancer in both men and women, the link seems to be stronger in men.
Physical activity: Being more active lowers your risk of colorectal cancer and polyps.
Diet: Overall, diets that are high in vegetables, fruits, whole grains and low in red and processed meats, probably lower colorectal cancer risk, although it’s not exactly clear which factors are important.
Alcohol: Several studies have found a higher risk of colorectal cancer with increased alcohol intake, especially among men. It is best not to drink alcohol. For people who do drink, they should have no more than one drink per day for women or two drinks per day for men.
Not smoking: Long-term smoking is linked to an increased risk of colorectal cancer, as well as many other cancers and health problems.
The bottom line is do everything you can to reduce your risk. “Colon cancer is a silent killer,” said Stephen Ulrich, M.D., board-certified family practice, Perry County Family Practice, New Lexington, Ohio. “By the time patients notice blood in the stool, weight loss and unexplained abdominal pain, the cancer may have already spread to other organs and invaded the wall of the bowel. The result is a colostomy (a bag attached outside the body for bowel function.) It’s an unpleasant fate.”
However, this fate can be avoided with adequate screening for colon cancer. The gold standard for colon cancer screening is a colonoscopy, which is recommended at age 50 if there are no other risk factors. If there is a family history of colon cancer or its precursor (colon polyps) in your family, your primary care provider may recommend earlier screenings.
So, while it’s not typically a topic discussed at the dinner table, it’s a subject that needs shared to help save lives.
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