Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in America. But, diet and exercise could help keep your colon cancer-free.

Cancer in your colon is slow growing, sometimes taking 10 to 20 years before the polyps on the colon become cancerous. But, if monitored, the chance of death drastically declines. And there’s more good news: diet and exercise — two controllable factors —play a major role in preventing colon cancer.

RISK FACTORS

Most cases of colon cancer occur in people age 50 and older. The causes are linked to genetics and an unhealthy and inactive lifestyle.

Another at-risk group are people who carry a specific genetic mutation or have relatives with the cancer. In fact, 25 percent of those diagnosed have a familial connection to colon cancer.

Colon cancer is preventable and curable if detected early. Be proactive: If you are over 50, consult with your primary care physician about recommended screenings. If you have a history of colon cancer in your family, your medical provider might suggest being screened sooner than later.

RECOMMENDED DIET AND LIFESTYLE CHANGES

Obese and inactive patients are at high risk for colon cancer. An active lifestyle and healthy diet has great rewards beyond fighting colon cancer including increased energy levels and the added benefit of shedding extra pounds.

Research shows that exercise and low-calorie diets help prevent colorectal cancer. Some experts believe making healthy lifestyle changes may lower the risk of developing colorectal cancer by as much as 70 percent.

Suggested changes include cutting limiting alcohol, and not surprisingly — quitting smoking. Other recommendations include a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Plant diets full of leafy greens and fiber-rich fruits and vegetables have been linked to lower levels of colon cancer. Increase your consumption of healthy proteins such as fish and eggs that are high in omega 3-fatty acids and decrease or eliminate red meat from your diet.

You can keep your morning coffee ritual. Researchers at the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center of Keck Medicine of USC have found that coffee consumption actually decreases the risk of colorectal cancer.

“We found that drinking coffee is associated with lower risk of colorectal cancer, and the more coffee consumed, the lower the risk,” said Stephen B. Gruber, MD, director of the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center at Keck Medicine of USC.

For 40 years, the National Cancer Institute has recognized USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center as one of the leading comprehensive cancers centers in the country.

By Heidi Tyline King

Visit one of the world-renowned specialists at the Researchers at the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center at Keck Medicine of USC to learn more about colon cancer screenings. If you are in the Los Angeles area and in search of a physical therapist, call (800) USC-CARE (800-872-2273) or visit http://keckmedicine.org/request-an-appointment/ to schedule an appointment.