March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Did you know colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the U.S.? A recent study outlines some key foods that may cut your chances of getting this disease.
(via CBS News) A new study published in the online edition of JAMA Internal Medicine finds that a vegetarian diet consisting of fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes and nuts might reduce your risk of colorectal cancer by 20 percent. And vegetarians who also include fish in their diet have an even stronger protection against the disease.
While piling vegetables onto your plate may help prevent colorectal cancer, it’s not the only way.
“You can stop smoking, exercise, reduce your alcohol intake, and find out about your family history,” says Denise Wiley, RN, OCN, Nurse Navigator at Renown Institute for Cancer. “Above all, get screened and catch it early. Keep in mind, if caught early, colorectal cancer is totally preventable.”
While colonoscopies are the gold standard in screening for colon cancer, there is a test you can take without having to leave the privacy of your home. A FIT test (Fecal Immunochemical Test) is a screening kit for colorectal cancer that is pain-free, requires no dietary or medication restrictions and takes just about 10 minutes.
“Renown offers FIT tests for a special price during March in honor of National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month,” says Denise. “Screening tests are intended for patients that are 50 years or older and do not have symptoms of colorectal cancer — because if you have symptoms, you should see your doctor.”
Symptoms of colorectal cancer may include:
- A change in bowel habits, such as diarrhea, constipation, or narrowing of the stool, that lasts for more than a few days
- A feeling that you need to have a bowel movement that is not relieved by doing so
- Rectal bleeding
- Blood in the stool (dark in appearance)
- Cramping or abdominal (belly) pain
In its earliest stages, when it is most curable, colorectal cancer no symptoms. Denise says this is why it is so important to get screened.
Overall, remember this: A healthy diet rich in vegetables, paired with routine screenings, are important ways to reduce your risk for colorectal cancer.