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Top 10 Colon Cancer Prevention Tips
by : Donna Myers

Colorectal cancer is one of the most common, and yet preventable, cancers. To help protect yourself and your loved ones from the disease, follow these ten colon cancer prevention tips.

1. Go to a doctor if you have any colorectal cancer symptoms.
Colon cancer can grow for years before anything out of the ordinary happens. Having an idea of what to look out for, like changes in bowel habits and rectal bleeding, is an important part of any colon cancer prevention plan.

2. If you're 50 or older, schedule a colorectal cancer screening.
Then actually go to the appointment. More than 90% of people diagnosed with colorectal cancer are 50 or older and the average age of diagnosis is 64. Research indicates that by age 50, one in four people has polyps (colorectal cancer precursors). Getting screened is an excellent colon cancer prevention method.

3. Eat a balanced diet.
This recommendation is independent of weight. If your goal is colon cancer prevention, a balanced diet seems to be the way to go.

4. Maintain a healthy weight.
Do you weigh more than you want to? If I gave you ten seconds, you could probably rattle off at least five reasons to lose weight. Now you can add colon cancer prevention to the list.

5. Maintain an active lifestyle.
We all know we're supposed to maintain an active lifestyle. It makes us feel better, aids in colon cancer prevention, blah blah blah. Exercise doesn't have to be blah, though. It doesn't have to be a chore forced upon us for our own good, like spring cleaning the house (which, by the way, is excellent exercise).

6. Consider genetic counseling.
People who carry genetic mutations linked to hereditary colorectal cancer are the most likely to develop the disease. If someone in your family has FAP or HNPCC, or if you're of Ashkenazi Jewish descent, you should seriously consider adding genetic counseling to your colon cancer prevention plan.

7. Learn your family medical history.
Did you know your family medical history can impact your chances of developing colorectal cancer? When discussing colon cancer prevention with your doctor, remember to mention if family members have had polyps or colorectal cancer. Other cancers (such as stomach, liver, and bone) may also be relevant.

8. Talk to a doctor about your personal medical history.
As you may have guessed, discussing your own medical history is extremely important when it comes to colon cancer prevention. Sometimes we feel like doctors aren't interested in what we have to say; we try to answer their questions as quickly and succinctly as possible. But it's alright, and advisable to talk about your health history. Of particular concern are polyps, certain cancers, and chronic inflammation of the bowel--all of which can increase the risk of developing colorectal cancer.

9. Don't smoke.
That's one you've never heard before, right? It keeps popping up, but there's a reason: it's just horrible for you. If you're serious about colon cancer prevention, you'll have to get serious about smoking cessation.

10. Reduce radiation exposure.
Is radiation really relevant to colon cancer prevention? The short answer is yes. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, colon cancer has been caused by doses of about 1,000 millisieverts. So, what the heck is a millisievert and how do you keep from racking up 1,000 of them?

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