MARCH IS NATIONAL COLON CANCER AWARENESS MONTH

WHY COLON HEALTH IS CRITICAL

By Paul Bierman, M.D.

The digestive system is one of the your body’s most integral systems. Your colon is not only responsible for helping to digest food, but it is crucial for eliminating chemical and physical waste along with toxins and preservatives. Your kidneys and liver also help alongside your colon to eliminate these harmful toxins.

Your colon can be affected by different conditions, including ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and colorectal cancer. Diet and lifestyle modifications can help in many conditions, but special medications and procedures are needed for others.

THE WEIGHT CONNECTION

According to the National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society, the link between diet, weight, exercise, and colorectal cancer are some of the strongest for any type of cancer. Estimates are that 50-75% of colorectal cancer can be prevented through lifestyle and dietary changes, specifically healthy eating. Fewer than 10% of all colorectal cancers are hereditary, which is why good nutrition is a critical aspect of good colon health.

DIET DOS AND DON’TS

1. Limit red meat.

2. Steer clear of processed meats.

3. Stay away from simple sugars. Studies have found that people with Crohn’s and colitis do better on diets low in sugar.

4. Up your fiber intake.

5. Drink milk. Calcium and vitamin D may be associated with a decreased risk of colorectal cancer. Other sources of calcium include leafy greens like spinach, kale, and collard greens.

6. Eat whole grains like barley, quinoa, whole wheat flour, wild and brown rice, and oatmeal.

MAKE SCREENING A PRIORITY

The most important way to prevent colon cancer is with a screening colonoscopy. If detected early, up to 95% of colorectal cancers are curable.

Colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death among men and women combined. However, it is preventable and treatable if caught early. If you are 50 or older, schedule a colonoscopy.

Dr. Paul Bierman is nationally recognized and Board Certified, and has been practicing gastroenterology for more than 20 years. GI SPECIALISTS FOUNDATION, a member of Baptist Medical Group. colonscreening.com • (901) 201-6200

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