Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in the United States. It is also one of the most preventable. Research shows that Americans can prevent tens of thousands of colorectal cancer cases every year through diet, physically activity and weight management, say experts at the American Institute of Cancer Research (AICR).
“By making a few changes in what you eat and drink, and getting at least 30 minutes of activity in every day, you have the power to significantly lower your risk of developing colorectal cancer,” says Alice Bender, MS, RDN, AICR’s Head of Nutrition Programs. “We estimate that about 63,000 cases in the United States every year wouldn’t have to happen if everyone were to make these lifestyle adjustments and stay a healthy weight.”
For National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, Bender shares six evidence-based steps to reduce your risk.
1. Stay a healthy weight and watch out for belly fat.
Research now shows that excess body fat links to increased risk of colorectal cancer, along with ten other cancers. Carrying excess belly fat – regardless of weight – is a risk factor for colorectal cancer.
What To Do: Become portion-size savvy. Choose larger portions of colorful vegetables, but keep servings of calorie-packed foods like meats, cheese and nuts smaller. Limit desserts and sweets to two or three times a week in small portions.
2. Fit activity into your day.
From housecleaning to running, research shows that moderate daily physical activity – of all types – reduces the risk of colon cancer. (There was insufficient evidence to make a similar conclusion regarding rectal cancer.)
What To Do: Find 10 minutes today to move, whether taking a break at work or while watching TV. Build on that over time by taking more activity breaks or extending the 10 minutes to 30 minutes.