I realize the discussion of “down under” body parts can cause some people to become squeamish. So when it comes to talking about colorectal health you might just want to end this conversation right about now. Please, I beg you, don’t. By the time you reach your fifties, this organ can treat you right, or things could go awfully wrong. The difference could very well be in the upkeep.
While there is decidedly a genetic predisposition (familial occurrence) to colorectal cancer, it can develop in just about anyone. The risk increases significantly with age with adults, aged 50 and older, accounting for ninety percent of new colorectal cancer diagnoses. Signs and symptoms (which often do not show up early on) include: painful abdominal cramping, change in bowel habits (diarrhea or constipation), unexplained weight loss, fatigue, and blood in stool or with bowel movements.
Whether or not colorectal cancer happens to run in your family, why not learn how to deflect it from taking root in your own colon? Research has provided some real simple guidelines for us when it comes to lifestyle and dietary habits. So without any further uncomfortable discussion, may I present you with a colorectal curriculum for good health?
Happy Colon 101
- Exercise regularly. This means 3-5 times per week, 30 minute sessions, or 150 minutes/week—in another combination. (I know you think I added this because I’m a physical therapist, but it seems to be part of the answer to most every health problem.)
- Limit intake of red meats (beef, lamb, some pork) and processed meats (hot dogs, bacon, ham, and other deli cuts). One study showed that for every two ounces of processed meat you eat on a daily basis (that’s about one hot dog) your risk of colorectal cancer increases by 21%!
- Maintain a healthy body weight. (Refer back to my website under Free Resources, and use my flexible BMI Calculator to get an idea of where you “weigh in” on this one.)
- Don’t smoke—unless you’re on fire! : D
- Eat a high-fiber, low-fat diet.
- Last, yet extremely critical, have your initial colonoscopy performed beginning in your 50th birthday year, and then follow up with future testing as prescribed by your doctor.