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Colon Cancer & Exercise

Tuesday, December 5, 2006


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Colon Cancer & Exercise - Tuesday, December 5, 2006Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer among women in the U.S. It includes cancers of the large intestine (the colon) and the rectum. The American Cancer Society estimates approximately 148,000 new cases of colorectal cancer to be diagnosed in the U.S. during 2006, along with over 55,000 colon cancer deaths. This is approximately 10% of annual cancer deaths in the U.S. Many physicians feel that most cases of colorectal cancer are preventable through adoption of healthy lifestyle practices.

Practicing a healthy lifestyle cannot only reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, but it can also reduce the chance of developing colorectal cancer. High fiber intake has been widely recommended to reduce the probability of colon cancer, but in some recent studies, including the Nurses' Health Study, there has not been a convincing link between high fiber intake and a reduced chance of developing colon cancer. On the other hand, the Nurses' Health Study did show a clear reduction in colon cancer risk for women who were physically active. In that study, which has been conducted for over 30 years and is the largest study of women's health to date, physical activity was shown to cut the chance of both colon cancer and precancerous polyps in half. Overweight and obese women were shown to have a greater likelihood of developing colon cancer than lean women.

Also in the Nurses' Health Study, intake of fruits and vegetables did not clearly reduce colon cancer risk, but there was a moderately increased chance of colorectal cancer among women who routinely ate red meat or processed meat.

It is estimated that about 30,000 lives a year could be saved if everyone over age 50 were screened for colorectal cancer. If you are over 50 years of age, regular screening is the most important thing that you can do to lower your risk of colorectal cancer. Just like in women, colon cancer is the third most common type of cancer in men, and it is responsible for the second greatest number of cancer deaths each year.

Many individuals take aspirin to reduce the possibility of developing colon polyps and colon cancer. There may be side effects to do this; speak with your physician before doing so. By being physically active, maintaining a healthy weight, and getting regular checkups, you can substantially lower your chance of developing colon cancer.

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