Decrease risk for colorectal cancer through exercise, healthy diet

DAYTON, OHIO—While a recent study led by the American Cancer Society shows that colon and rectal cancers have increased among young and middle-age adults, younger than age 55, a local physician says steps can be taken to decrease the risk for colorectal cancer.

James R. Ouellette, D.O., a physician with Wright State Physicians Surgical Oncology and an associate professor of surgery at the Wright State University Boonshoft School of Medicine, says people should exercise regularly and maintain a healthy weight. They also should quit smoking and limit alcohol. “Lower your risk by eating lots of vegetables, leafy greens, fruits, whole grains and fish,” he said. “Eat less red meat and processed meat.”

The month of March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. More than 135,000 people will be diagnosed with cancer of the colon or rectum this year, according to the American Cancer Society. About 50,000 will die from the disease.

Ouellette and other physicians at Wright State Physicians Surgical Oncology encourage people to talk with their primary care physician about getting screened for pre-cancer or cancer through a colonoscopy. A colonoscopy is recommended every 10 years for people 50 and older. Those at higher risk may need to get screened at an earlier age. Younger people and anyone else experiencing a change in bowel habits, rectal bleeding, dark stools, blood in the stool, cramping or abdominal pain, weakness and fatigue or unintended weight loss should contact their physician.

“Screening tests can detect colorectal cancer early, when it can be more easily and successfully treated,” he said. “Colorectal cancer can be prevented by the removal of polyps, which are grape-like growths on the wall of the intestine, before they become cancerous. Most polyps are removed during a colonoscopy procedure.”