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Colon Cancer Basics


I have personally known a few people who have passed away from colon cancer, and being as it is the third most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women in the United States, odds are you also have lost a loved one or an acquaintance to colon cance. While nothing can guarantee you will never be diagnosed with colon cancer, there are lifestyle factors you can take to mitigate the risk of you ever having it. These factors are consuming a healthy diet, and not living a sedentary lifestyle. There are some risk factors we cannot control, yet I want to ensure that you are made aware of all the risk factors that are under your control. There are more than some might believe. But first:

Causes of colon cancer.

From Mayo Clinic:

Doctors are not certain what causes most colon cancers.

In general, colon cancer begins when healthy cells in the colon develop changes in their DNA. A cell’s DNA contains a set of instructions that tell a cell what to do.

As I have written in Macronutrients, the Building Blocks of Life we must ensure that our diets receive enough protein to provide us with the 9 essential amino acids that our bodies cannot produce and can only come through what we consume. A human body whose diet is lacking in these essential amino acids over a period of time will damage your DNA, which in turn only increase your risk of cancers.

Healthy cells grow and divide in an orderly way to keep your body functioning normally. But when a cell’s DNA is damaged and becomes cancerous, cells continue to divide – even when new cells are not needed. As the cells accumulate, they form a tumor.

With time, the cancer cells can grow to invade and destroy normal tissue nearby. And cancer cells can grow to other parts of the body to form deposits there (metastasis),

Factors that may increase your risk of colon cancer include:

Lifestyle changes to reduce your risk of colon cancer:

  1. Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Be sure you are consuming enough fiber to keep your bowel functions regular and normal.
  2. Drink alcohol in moderation, if at all.
  3. Stop smoking!
  4. Exercise most days of the week. Get up and move your body with a purpose. For your exercise to truly benefit yourself, then you must get your heart rate elevated into the aerobic, fat burning zone for at least 30 minutes, at least 4 days per week.
  5. Maintain a healthy weight or body fat percentage. We concentrate more on body fat percentages as you can actually have yourself to what is considered a healthy weight while still having an unhealthly level of visceral fat.

Screening for colon cancer.

Doctors recommend that people with an average risk of colon cancer consider colon cancer screening around age 50. But people with an increased risk, such as those with a family history of colon cancer, should consider screening sooner.

Several screening options exist – each with it’s own benefits and drawbacks. Talk about your options with your doctor, and together you can decide which tests are appropriate for you. (1)


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