A twentysomething's guide to colorectal cancer prevention

March 15, 2014

If you are in your twenties like me, your first reaction to a piece about colorectal cancer may be “Thank goodness I don’t have to think about that yet!” But being in your twenties is all about taking on responsibility and that includes taking charge of your health. Now is an ideal time to learn about colorectal cancer and establish good habits to reduce your risk. The longer you put off creating good habits, the harder it becomes to establish them later in life. Read on to learn more about colorectal cancer prevention and what you can do now to reduce your risk.

Know your family history. A family history of colorectal cancer puts you at two to three times the risk. Talk with your family not only about colorectal cancer but other cancers and health issues too. A healthy person with “average risk” should start screening for colorectal cancer at the age of fifty; it is recommended that people with a family history or other risk factors discuss the optimal age for screening with their health care professional.

Good nutrition and exercise are the two most recommended prevention tips for all types of cancer prevention.

Eat well. Make it a habit in the grocery store to spend more time in the produce section. Spice up your meals by trying new fruits and vegetables. Get started by incorporating new vegetables into your favorite dishes. My daily goal is to remember to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables that match the color wheel. This supplies a diverse amount of nutrition and creates a well-balanced diet. Get inspired and follow our Yummy healthy recipes Pinterest board.

Exercise. In today’s sedentary world, it is a struggle to exercise consistently. Keep yourself accountable with the numerous workout apps available on your phone or grab a friend and join a workout class. It is still cold in many places in March, so bring your workout inside. While I watch my favorite TV shows, I stay off the couch and run on the treadmill, stretch or lift weights.

Prevent cancer by preventing bad habits. Minimize these risks and you will be on the road to colorectal cancer prevention. Drink alcohol in moderation. Reduce red meats and processed meats in your diet. Do not smoke.

It is expected that there will be over 136,000 new cases of colorectal cancer this year.

Share. Cancer prevention is not just about you, it is about sharing the message with others. Are your friends aware of the easy steps to cancer prevention? Do your part, tweet and share this guide with your other twenty something friends. Send your parents and grandparents a link to our colorectal cancer prevention page to get your family proactive about colon health. Everyone age fifty or older is recommended to get screened for colorectal cancer; that age is lower if you are at higher risk. A colonoscopy is the gold standard of colon screenings, but there are a number of other tests that are very helpful. The most important thing is that the appointment gets made and kept. So urge your loved ones who are fifty or older to talk with their health professional about colorectal cancer prevention and screening.

March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. One of the things my generation is best at is communicating. Please help spread the word about colorectal cancer — a disease that is expected to claim over 50,000 lives this year. You can help reduce that statistic. Start by taking the steps outlined above.

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