Recent Study Says Regular Exercise Can Prevent Colon Cancer

Rachel Morrell

Recent Study Says Regular Exercise Can Prevent Colon Cancer

A new study suggests regular exercise decreases the risk of developing abnormal colon tissue that can lead to colon cancer.

You’ve heard it from your doctor, and you’ve heard it on the news: exercise is important. But are you listening? According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than three-quarters of the U.S. population is not getting enough exercise and is putting their health at risk.

Exercise and Colon Cancer Prevention

Exercise can provide many benefits like supporting bone and muscle health, improving cardiovascular fitness, managing weight and lowering both cholesterol and blood pressure. Exercise can also help reduce the risk of cancer, especially colon cancer.

New research reveals regular physical activity could make you 23 percent less likely to develop precancerous growths in the colon. Furthermore, regular exercise could make you 27 percent less likely to develop the most aggressive precancerous growths that are more prone to progress into colon cancer.

Although the study did not reveal precisely how exercise reduces the risk of colon tumor development, the researchers theorized that physical activity could improve digestion, reducing the time acid or carcinogens are in the digestive tract. Another theory is that exercise could lower blood sugar by making the body more efficient at using insulin to convert glucose into energy.

Lifestyle Changes and Colon Cancer Prevention

Along with exercise, you can reduce your risk for precancerous colon tumors by:

  • Quitting smoking
  • Limiting red meat and processed meats
  • Improving fiber intake (35 grams of fiber daily for men and 30 grams of fiber daily for women)
  • Eating a diet high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins
  • Drinking plenty of water
  • Reserving alcohol for special occasions

A common misconception about colon cancer is that only older adults develop the disease, but this is not true. Colon cancer is the third-leading cause of cancer death among men and women in the United States, and the rate of young-onset colon cancer is steadily rising each year. Because colon cancer often has no symptoms in the early stages, it can be challenging to diagnose.

Get Screened to Prevent Colon Cancer

For this reason, the American Cancer Society recommends all adults at average risk for colon cancer begin colon cancer screening at the age of 45. Individuals who have certain risk factors for colon cancer should talk with their doctor about getting screened earlier. Some of these risk factors include:

  • Family history of colon cancer
  • Personal history of precancerous growths or polyps
  • Family history of hereditary colon cancer like familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or Lynch syndrome

Find a Local Gastroenterologist

Talk with your doctor about when you should get screened for colon cancer and how often you should be screened. A colonoscopy is the most comprehensive type of screening because it can detect and prevent colon cancer in a single procedure. The best news is that a clear colonoscopy means you probably will not need to be screened for another 10 years!

If you are looking for a fellowship-trained GI doctor in your area, click here. Enter your zip code in the orange box on the top right corner of the page to access a list of GI treatment centers near your home.

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