With bowel cancer, screening is prevention.
Pre-cancerous polyps—abnormal growths inside the bowel or rectum—can be detected by screening and removed before turning into cancer.
Bowel cancer is unique because screening may catch cancer before it develops. While screening does not guarantee a cure, it is the most important and effective preventive step you can take.
What can I do to lower my risk of bowel cancer?
In addition to screening, you can make certain lifestyle choices to lower your risk:
- Avoid alcohol. Alcohol is a known risk for bowel cancer.
- Don’t smoke. Smoking increases the risk of all digestive system cancers, including bowel. Quitting has tremendous benefits for your overall health.
- Control your weight. Obesity increases the risk of bowel cancer. For every five point decrease in body mass index above the normal range, you decrease your risk by 15%. For instance, a BMI drop from 35 to 30 results in a 15% risk reduction.
- Get at least 150 minutes per week of aerobic activity. Physical activity has a demonstrable protective effect on bowel cancer risk. This appears to be true even for those who are overweight.
- Limit your consumption of red meat. Studies show bowel cancer risk is 17-30% higher per 100-120g/day of red meat intake. Decrease portions or choose chicken or fish instead.
- Eat fruit and starchy vegetables. The antioxidants and fiber in dark leafy greens, beets, squashes, bell peppers, tomatoes, asparagus, carrots, cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, green beans, and fruit have a protective effect against bowel cancer.
- Eat fiber. Fiber-rich foods like beans, seeds, nuts, oatmeal, edamame, dry roasted chickpeas and bran cereal escort carcinogens out of the body.
- Avoid exposure to radiation and environmental pollution. Expose yourself to these effects only when absolutely necessary.