How To Prevent Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer is one of the most common form of cancer internationally, and the number one form of cancer in Singapore for both men and women. In our series of four-part articles, we will be looking at: What causes colorectal cancer How to prevent colorectal cancer Symptoms & Diagnosis of colorectal cancer Treatment for colorectal […]

Colorectal cancer is one of the most common form of cancer internationally, and the number one form of cancer in Singapore for both men and women. In our series of four-part articles, we will be looking at:

Do read on to find out more about one of the greatest threats to your life, and be equipped with the knowledge to prevent it from causing you your life. In this article,we will be discussing about the methods to reduce colorectal cancer. It will be beneficial for you to read the previous article to find out about the causes of colorectal cancer, as the preventive measures are against them.

How To Prevent Colorectal Cancer

As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure. And this cannot be truer especially in the case of cancer. Even if you managed to survive and recover from a cancer, you are still at a high risk of having your cancer recurring. There are also several side effects from cancer treatments that may cause you to develop other cancer in the future. Hence, it is important to start making lifestyle changes to reduce your chance of cancer.

Colorectal Cancer Prevention Methods

The following are prevention methods that can be adopted into your daily life in order to ensure that colorectal cancer does not become a problem for you.

Regular screenings

Regular screening for colorectal cancer can allow you to detect any cancer cells early, and remove them immediately before they evolve into more serious stages. Regular screening should be done by everyone, but even more so for those who have already been flagged with having a higher risk of developing colorectal cancer. These refers to the following groups of people:

  • People age 50 years or above
  • People with a history of cancer, especially colorectal cancer
  • People who previously detected Polyps in their colon and had them
  • People with a family history of colorectal cancer
  • People who were discovered to possess mutated gene that increase the risk of colorectal cancer
  • People with inflammatory intestinal conditions such as Crohn’s disease or irritable bowel disorder (IBD).
  • People suffering from obesity

 

Image 2.1: Various types of screening for colorectal cancer for early detection

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mk8lyLWX_OU

Medication for colorectal cancer prevention for people at higher risk

Researches have found certain medications that can reduce the risk of developing benign polyps that can evolve into cancer, as well as medications that reduce the risk of colorectal cancer.

For example, studies have suggested that aspirins can reduce the risk of polyps and colorectal cancer by boosting the immune systems. However, researchers are still unsure of the dosage and duration that aspirin should be used in order to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. Taking aspirin daily also comes with risks such as ulcers and gastrointestinal bleeding.

asprin tablet
Image 2.1: Aspirin tablets Source: https://yaoota.com/en-eg/product/aspirin-protect-100-mg-20-tab-price-from-seif-egypt

Hence, such preventive medications treatment should only be undertaken under the advice of doctors, and only in cases when patients have a very high risk of developing colorectal cancer. If not, it should not be taken like your everyday vitamins in a bid to reduce the risks of developing colorectal cancer.

Diet

As mentioned in the previous article, your diet can greatly affect your risk of getting colorectal cancer. Change up your diet if you have been having a high-fat, low-fibre one.

Start cutting down on food with high fat content, especially those with saturated fat Instead, choose food with good quality fats like olive oil, fish oil, avocado and nuts.

As much as possible, stop eating processed and red meats.

Increase your fibre intake by eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Try to consume good quality carbohydrates such as oat and wheat as well. Apart from fibre, these food types are also rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which can aid in cancer prevention. Eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables allows you to get an array of vitamins and nutrients, increasing the chances of cancer prevention.

Coffee, even those without caffeine, have been found to lower the risk of colorectal cancer, and are advised to be taken daily.

food pryamid
Image 2.2: Food Pyramid as a reference for your food choice Source: https://viralrang.com/food-pyramid/

Maintaining your bodyweight in the healthy region

As mentioned, obesity increases your chances of colorectal cancer. Ensure that your weight is in the healthy region will help to prevent cancer. If you are unsure, you can judge base on the Body Mass Index (BMI), to see if your weight is in the healthy and suitable region. Consulting your doctor can also allow you to have a better understanding on your weight, such as your fat percentage.

If you already have a healthy weight, ensure that you maintain it by having a healthy diet, as well as consistent exercises. If you are overweight or obese, consult your doctor for safe and healthy ways to lose weight. Losing weight should not be rushed, and you should slowly and consistently reduce your calories intake while increasing the amount of exercise you get daily.

Exercise

As mentioned, exercising plays a big role in colorectal cancer prevention. Keeping active helps to keep you strong and fit, as well as lower your risk of developing colorectal cancer. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise daily.

If you have not been exercising for a long time, start slowly with shorter workout timing and eventually build up to 30 minutes. Before starting any exercise program, you should also consult your doctor.

Consume alcohol in moderation

If your lifestyle or occupation requires you to drink alcohol, limit the amount you drink to no more than two drink a day. And if possible, stop drinking alcohol completely.

Quit smoking

Smoking, as mentioned in the previous article, increases your chances of developing colorectal cancer, amongst many other forms of cancer. Quitting smoking benefits both yourself and those around you as second hand smoke is also a cause for cancer. Consult your doctor, or join organisations that specialises in helping people to quit smoking.

quitline
Image 2.3: Singapore Health Promotion Board hotline for quitting smoking Source: https://www.healthhub.sg/programmes/88/IQuit

Written by: Lim Jun Tian

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