What Can I Do to Help Prevent Colorectal Polyps and Cancer?

We are not sure of the exact cause of most colorectal cancers, but it is possible that we may be able to prevent many of them.  There are many steps that individuals can take in order to prevent colorectal cancer.

Regular colorectal cancer screenings are one of the most important steps that you can take to prevent colorectal cancer.  A screening involves a colonoscopy that looks for pre-cancer or cancer in the people who have no symptoms of the disease.  It usually takes about 10 to 15 years for a colon polyp with abnormal cells to develop into colorectal cancer.  Regular, recommended screening colonoscopies can prevent colon cancer all together.  This is because most polyps can be found through and removed before they have a chance of developing into cancer.  Screening colonoscopies can also provide the opportunity for your physician to discover colorectal cancer early, when it is treatable and highly curable.  It is recommend that have individuals who have no known risk factors should begin getting screening colonoscopies at age 50.  People who have a family history or other risk factors, such as inflammatory bowel disease, for colorectal polyps or cancer should follow the recommendations of their gastroenterologist on when they should start getting screened and how frequently.

Diet and physical exercise can lower your risk cancer of developing colorectal polyps and cancer.  Multiple studies have shown that being overweight or obese increases the risk of colorectal cancer in both men and women, but especially in men.   Having a larger waistline has also been linked to colorectal cancer.  Diets that are high in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains and low in red and processed meats can lower your risk of developing colorectal cancer.  Studies have also shown that increased levels of activity can lower your risk of developing colorectal cancer.

It is important to do what it is in your control to prevent the risks of developing colorectal cancer.  It is important to follow the recommendations of your physicians of when to start getting and how often to get a screening colonoscopy.  It is also important to maintain a healthy weight, follow a healthy diet and be physically active.  These recommendations will help prevent the development of colorectal polyps and cancer.

1.  “Can colorectal cancer be prevented?”  American Cancer Society.  American Cancer Society, Inc.  July 30, 2013.  Web 7 Oct 2013.
2. “Colon Polyps.”  Mayo Clinic.  Mayo Foundation for Medical and Education Research (MFMER).  July 16, 2011.  Web 7 Oct 2013.