Tag Archives: Colon Cancer Prevention

Two Critical Matters in Colorectal Cancer Early Detection

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

Time for cancer screening_Clipart library & CPDAccording to the American Cancer Society (ACS), an estimated 135,430 cases of colorectal cancer (CRC) will be diagnosed and an estimated 50,260 CRC deaths will occur in 2017 in the United States.

Zeroing in on the numbers: within the predicted colorectal cancer incidence, 71,420 will be men and 64,010 will be women, and deaths will be 27,150 among men and 23,110 among women. Consequently in cancer deaths, CRC is the second leading cause in men and the third leading cause in women among Americans. Worldwide, CRC is the third most common cancer.

These numbers make clear that CRC affects both men and women, in contrast to a myth that CRC is primarily a man’s cancer.

The good news is that most colon cancers are preventable! YES!

Yet, why are the statistics so large? Here are two areas many people often ignore or miss:

  •  Lack of adherence to the screening recommendation
  •  Delay in presenting symptoms to a physician/oncologist

Let me weigh in a bit more on each of these issues.

Adherence to screening and the value of colonoscopy

Let’s start with ACS screening guidelines: “Starting at age 50, men and women at average risk for developing colorectal cancer should use one of the screening tests…” This is because about more than 90% of this disease is diagnosed after age 50. For individuals who have a 1st degree family member or relative with colon cancer, exams should start at an earlier age (e.g. ages 40).

One recommended screening test is colonoscopy, because it can not only detect cancers at their earliest, most treatable stages; it can also detect pre-cancerous polyps that can be removed during the exam before they become cancerous.

In reality, 50-60 percent of Americans who are recommended to get screened comply with the guidance. The lower screening rate might partially explain why only about 40 percent of colon cancers are diagnosed at an early stage (i.e. localized in colon or rectum).

Why should you go for a colonoscopy screening?

  1. You gain significant value. Your anxiety, fear, or even feelings of embarrassment may be understandable. However, consider this: Individuals undergo this exam of high quality under a comfortable, sedated condition, during which the entire colon and rectum are visualized by a qualified gastroenterologist. Pre-cancerous polyps can be found and removed safely. Can you see that this is a very valuable package of diagnosis and therapeutics for your colon health care? 
  2. You acquire rigorous clarity concerning your colon health. We want rigorous clarity in science, and surely, everyone wants thorough clarity when purchasing a house or insurance policy. It makes sense to seek rigorous clarity about a matter so critical to your health. If the result is normal, the colonoscopy should be repeated every 10 years up to the age of 75. If the test detects pre-cancerous polyps, the physician will recommend repeating the exam more frequently.
  3. You benefit from one of the most effective cancer prevention methods, and it is often covered by insurance.

Help your physician to help you by presenting any indications

In some cases, especially at an early stage, colon cancer may present no symptoms. Again, that’s why screening is vital to identify cancer early when prognosis and cure are optimistic.

Nevertheless, other folks may experience symptoms such as:

-          Blood in the stool or rectal bleeding

-          Abdominal pain or discomfort

-          Feeling the bowel incompletely empty, or bloating

-          Sudden changes in bowel habits (diarrhea, constipation, or oddly narrow stools)

-          Unexplained fatigue or weakness

-          Unexplained weight loss

Remember, nobody can read what’s on your mind or what’s going on in your life. If you don’t visit or communicate with your doctor, it’s likely he or she won’t know about your cramps or unexplained changes in your bowel movements.

So, devoting yourself to meeting screening guidelines is a key preventive measure, but another critical area is to counsel with your physician about possible warning signs.

In addition, an important step to preventing colorectal cancer is to know its risk factors. These factors can be categorized as:

-          Uncontrolled: age, colon polyps, family or personal history of cancer, esp. CRC

-          Pathological: obesity, diabetes, inflammatory bowel diseases

-          Controllable or Preventable: sedentary lifestyle, tobacco smoking, heavy alcohol consumption, diet with low-fiber but high-fat (esp. animal fats)

To conclude, for colorectal cancer early detection, as for all cancer risks:

#1 Cancer screening is your first crucial preventive step.

#2 Recognizing risk factors and warning signs is your second vital protective weapon.

Image credit: Clipart library & CPD

How to Consume Enough Daily Fiber for Cancer Prevention

By Hui Xie-Zukauskas

Imagine a fiber’s tale. “I am a fiber, and my nickname is “Tough Carb”. Together with my sibling soluble and insoluble kinds, I am largely wrapped up in foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Passing through your body, I bind with fats, help nutrients get better absorbed, move the bulk through the intestines, and promote a faster traffic to eliminate the waste your body doesn’t want. At the end, I still survive – remaining unbroken.”

What a fabulous job done by a “personal healthcare agent”! Well, I have more good news for you – Research indicates that a diet high in fiber can lower colon cancer risk. Specifically, every 10 grams of daily fiber intake reduces the risk of colon cancer by 10%.

Now the questions are how much fiber you need each day and how you can meet your goal to prevent colon cancer? Here I offer 5 meal-strategies that can help you effortlessly incorporate fiber into your daily diet and support the healthier, happier colon.

How much fiber do we need?

It is recommended that we eat 25-35 grams (g) of fiber per day. Sounds impossible or difficult? Don’t worry. A rule of thumb is – consume at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables and 3 servings of whole grains each day. This is based on the fact that fiber is abundant in whole grains, fruits and vegetables, nuts and legumes.

Fiber-rich breakfast ideasHow do you integrate 25-35 g of fiber into your diet on a daily basis?

Here are 5 meal-strategies to get your 25-35 grams each day with ease:

1. Breakfast: Have oatmeal or high-fiber cereal, fiber-rich breads or English Muffins, and more desirable, add fruits.

Breakfast is the most important meal of a day. However, many people skip it. Think about this. A cup of rolled oats (dry) contains nearly 10 g of fiber, and Quaker Instant Oatmeal (3 g of fiber per pack) is also available in all grocery stores. So, if you have 2 packages of oatmeal (6 g of fiber), a slice of whole wheat bread (5-6 g of fiber per slice; depending on brands), and add some fruits like berries, bananas or raisins to your cereal or oatmeal (extra 1-2 g fiber), you’ve got a nice jumpstart, and it’s not hard. Plus, a bonus gain – fiber can boost your energy for a fantastic day ahead!

Broccoli_10972132. Lunch: Eat plenty of veggies and beans. Use whole wheat or whole grain bread to make your sandwiches. Have an apple as a part of salad or desert. Broccoli, one of anti-cancer foods, holds a good supply of fiber; 4.0 g per ½ cup (raw), 5.0 g in 4 spears (frozen) and 9.3 g per cup (fresh, cooked). Beans and fish (esp. salmon) are also excellent protein sources to replace animal meat.

3. Dinner: Eat whole-wheat pasta, brown rice or potato (with skin), plus a variety of vegetables and olive oil. Add beans to your soup. Do you know cooked black beans contain 19.4 g of fiber per cup? How about whole-wheat pasta with chicken and colorful veggies?

whole-wheat-fig-bar4. Snacks: Take All-bran, Multi-grain crackers or high-fiber bars, fresh or dried fruits, as well as nuts and seeds, when you on the go. Fig is one of the highest fiber sources. Try Nature Bakery’s Whole Wheat Figgy Bars or Whole Wheat Blueberry Figgy Bars, they are individually-wrapped, delicious, and reward you another 2-4 g of fiber (2 g fiber per serving, 2 serving per pack). (But I’m not paid for “Ads”. :) )

5. Drinks: Drink more fruit/Veggie juice (fiber-rich) or soy milk (1-1.5 g of diary fiber in per 8 oz cup). See Martha Stewart’s recipes of making delicious green juice at home, which are affordable too.

Eventually, it’s your choice to include foods you desire. But the key is to eat a lot of fiber-rich foods (i.e. plan-based food).

Some folks consider that healthy foods taste boring, especially those from the grocery stores. I sympathize that, and the fix is – to get fresh fruits and vegetables from your local farmers’ market; those foods are yummy and refreshing!

As a final note, a balanced, fiber-rich diet is not the only tool to prevent colon cancer; exercise should go hand-in-hand with it.

 

Image credit: By aaronsg, quakeroats.com, rachelg, lockstockb, and naturesbakery.com