Colorectal cancer or colorectal tumor is the third most common type of cancer and the fourth most common cause of cancer-related death worldwide. As per the Indian Council of Medical Research, the annual incidence rates for colon tumor and rectal tumor in men are 4.4 and 4.1 per 100000, respectively while the annual incidence rates for colon tumor in women is 3.9 per 100000 in India.
This type of cancer limits the ability of your body to digest food and absorb nutrients. To explore more about colorectal cancer, read below!
- What is colorectal cancer?
- Symptoms of colorectal cancer
- Who is at risk for colorectal cancer?
- How to prevent colorectal cancer?
What is colorectal cancer?
Colorectal cancer (also known as bowel cancer) begins in the colon or rectum, the lowest parts of your gastrointestinal tract. These cancers can also be called colon cancer or rectal cancer, based on where they initiate.
Symptoms of colorectal cancer
Its symptoms include: Blood in the stool, Abdominal discomfort (pain, cramps, gas), Weakness, Excessive fatigue, Weight loss, Changes in color, shape, and consistency of stool, Changes in your bowel habits, including diarrhea or constipation
Who is at risk for colorectal cancer?
- Older age: Colorectal tumors can be diagnosed at any age, but a majority of individuals diagnosed with this tumor are older than 50.
- Family history of colorectal tumor: You are more likely to suffer from colorectal tumor if you have a blood relative who has/had this disorder. It is estimated that up to 10% of colon cancers are hereditary. If more than one family member has colon or rectal tumor, your risk of getting colorectal cancer is more.
- Sedentary lifestyle: Those who are inactive are more likely to get colorectal tumors.
- Alcohol and smoking: Those who smoke and drink are susceptible to tumors of the colon and rectum.
- Diabetes and obesity: Diabetic and/or obese people are at raised risk of developing and dying from colorectal tumors.
- Personal history of colorectal tumor: If you already had colon tumor or noncancerous colon polyps, you are at an elevated risk of colorectal tumor in the future.
- Radiation therapy for tumors: Radiation therapy directed at the abdomen to cure prior tumors puts you at increased risk of tumors in the gastrointestinal tract.
- Inflammatory intestinal conditions: Chronic inflammatory disorders of the colon like ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease can raise colorectal tumor risk.
- Inherited syndromes: The inherited syndromes that may put you at colorectal cancer risk are familial adenomatous polyposis and Lynch syndrome (also called hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer).
How to prevent colorectal cancer?
Colorectal cancer can substantially impair your quality of life. Read the below tips as a guide to reduce your tumor risk in the gastrointestinal tract.
(a) Curb your alcohol intake
According to the National Institutes of Health, moderate to heavy alcohol intake is linked with 1.2- to 1.5-fold raised risks of tumors of the colon and rectum vs. no alcohol intake. So, you should completely avoid drinking alcohol or drink alcohol in moderation.
(b) Don’t smoke
Smoking not only raises the risk of lung cancer, but is also an established risk factor for colorectal cancer. In comparison with non-smokers, those who smoke are more likely to develop and die from colorectal tumors. Taking steps to quit smoking is one of the best things you can do for your health.
- If you don’t smoke or use tobacco-don’t initiate!
- If you do smoke or use tobacco-quit!
Exercise is an important cancer-preventive strategy. If you are physically active, you can minimize your risk of colorectal tumors. Exercise boosts your immune system to fight cancer. So, be more active and exercise regularly!
Choose things you enjoy, like swimming, brisk walking, cycling, etc.
(d) Maintain a healthy weight
Obesity and cancer have a deleterious relationship. If you have put on weight, the foremost goal is to curb gaining extra weight. Being overweight or obese elevates the risk of colorectal cancer in both males and females, but the association seems to be stronger in males. A study by Honglan Li et al indicated that obesity is linked with a raised risk of colorectal cancer in males.
Losing just a few pounds of your weight can aid to cut your risks. So, watch your weight!
Smart food choices may aid to diminish your chances of getting colorectal cancer. Read below to know more:
Limit red meat, especially processed meat
Eating a lot of red (beef, pork, or lamb) and processed meat (like hot dogs and luncheon meat) elevates colorectal cancer risk. Those who consume more than 90 g (cooked weight) of red and processed meat per day should cut down to 70 g or less.
Opt for lean meats like fish or chicken instead. Many fatty fishes are also a rich source of vitamin D that has been shown to aid protection against tumors affecting the wall of the colon.
Add more whole grains to your diet
Colorectal cancer risk appears to go down if you increase your whole grain intake.
Eat a lot of vegetables and fruits
Diets that include lots of vegetables and fruits have been related to a decline in risk of colorectal cancer.
- Green vegetables and fruits are substantially related to diminished risk of colorectal tumor. Being rich in folate, lutein, sulforaphane, indole, and fibers, they fight against cancerous cells.
- White vegetables being enriched with polysaccharides, quercetin, saponins, and glucans also possess a pronounced link with decreased tumor risk of colon and rectal.
- The impact of orange and yellow fruit and vegetables are not certain. But, the protective nature of ginger, carrot, and pumpkin, and antioxidants present in citrus juice helps to prevent colorectal cancer.
- Red and purple fruits and vegetables also have a protective nature, but predominantly in females compared to males.
Eat more dairy products
Components of dairy products that may possibly safeguard you against colorectal cancer include
- Vitamin D
- Lactic acid bacteria, found in fermented dairy products such as yogurt
Low levels of calcium in your body raise colorectal tumor risk. So, add calcium-rich foods such as milk, yogurt, cheese, butter, and ice cream to your diet. Vitamin D is also important as found from a study in which individuals with deficient serum vitamin D levels had a 31% higher risk of colorectal tumor.
Include Omega 3 Oils
A diet rich in anti-inflammatory omega 3 oils (eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid) minimizes the incidence of cancer affecting the lining of the colon or rectum.
Include spices and herbs
Studies have indicated that spearmint, garlic, ginger, peppermint, turmeric, thyme, rosemary, and sage suppress the growth of colon tumor cells.
Use olive oil
A recent study demonstrated that diets rich in extra virgin olive oil can aid to prevent colorectal cancer. Enriched with phenolic compounds, olive oil exerts favorable effects on gut microbiota, free radicals, inflammation, and carcinogenesis.
Colorectal cancer is considered to be a PREVENTABLE cancer. Why? Primarily because by altering your diet and adopting healthy lifestyle modifications, you can minimize the risk dramatically. Early detection is vital to stay safe.
If you get regular colorectal cancer screening tests (colonoscopy), you will be diagnosed only with precancerous or early-stage tumor cells that are removed and treated without any major difficulty. Make a prevention plan as early as possible.