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Philippine Cancer Society Forum: Controlling Colorectal Cancer

Cancer ranks 3rd as the most common cause of death in the Philippines. Cancer incidents are slowly picking up, the smoking incidence, pollution, the food that we eat, the kind of lifestyle that we have are the things that will probably push cancer as the most common cause of death in the country.

Among these types of cancer, Colorectal Cancer is the 3rd most common cancer in the Philippines and the number steadily increases because less focus is given to this cancer as compared to that of Lung and Breast Cancer. But the good news is that it can be prevented. Here are 10 useful prevention tips from the Philippine Cancer Society to enable us to combat the 3rd deadliest cancer in the country today:

1. A balanced diet is the way to go

Research shows that diets high in fat and cholesterol, especially those coming from animal sources, as well as low fiber diets have been linked to an increased risk of colorectal cancer. Even if you can eat steak and liver at every meal and stay trim, you’re still increasing your risk of developing colorectal cancer by virtue of what you’re eating. There are foods that need to be avoided and should at least try to minimize them. The more preservatives that you have the more risk that you may develop this disease. Eat more fiber, vegetables, fruits and whole grains and less red meat and other sources of animal fats.

2. Lose those excess fats

Do you weigh more than you want to? You could probably rattle off at least five reasons to lose weight. Here’s another urgent reason to lose unwanted pounds and maintain a healthy weight. Obesity, defined as having a BMI (Body Mass Index) greater than 30, increases the risk of developing colorectal cancer. Reducing your weight-to-height ratio lowers your BMI, which decreases your risk of developing cancer of the colon or rectum. Research also shows that extra fat in the waist (i.e., an apple shape) increases the risk of colorectal cancer more than having extra fat in the thighs or hips (i.e., a pear shape). So, losing weight is particularly beneficial for people who have extra fat around their waist.

3. Exercise
A couch potato lifestyle increases the risk of developing colorectal cancer. The longer waste sits in the colon or rectum, the longer toxic materials have to leach out of the solidifying stool and back into your tissues. Exercise gets things moving – not just your body, but also the waste in your body. This is because exercise stimulates peristalsis, a wave-like muscular contraction that helps push waste through your colon. Exercise also tends to reduce the incidence of other risk factors for colon cancer, such as obesity and diabetes.

4. Don’t smoke.
That’s one you’ve never heard before, right? It keeps popping up, but there’s a reason: Studies indicate that 12% of fatal colorectal cancers may be attributable to smoking.
Smoking increases your risk of developing colorectal cancer for two main reasons. First, inhaled or swallowed tobacco smoke transports carcinogens to the colon. Second, tobacco use appears to increase polyp size. In general, the bigger the polyp, the greater the chance it will become cancerous.

5. Take your Vitamins
Some research suggests that taking a daily multivitamin containing folic acid, or folate, can lower colorectal cancer risk. Taking Calcium and vitamin D may also work together to reduce colorectal cancer risk, as vitamin D aids in the body’s absorption of calcium. In addition, a recent study suggested that a diet high in magnesium may also reduce colorectal cancer risk in women.

6. Go to a doctor if you have any colorectal cancer symptoms

Symptoms for colorectal cancer may include: stomach cramping and bloating, stool is thinner than usual, blood in stool, unexplained weight loss, constant exhaustion, gassy, vomiting for no reason and low iron content in your blood.

For colorectal cancer, patients usually detect it late and is sometimes mistaken for other diseases and would deny themselves of immediate treatment because they will try to self medicate.

7. Screening

One of the most powerful weapons in preventing colorectal cancer is regular colorectal cancer screening or testing. More than 90% of people diagnosed with colorectal cancer are 50 or older and the average age of diagnosis is 64. Research indicates that by age 50, one in four people has polyps. Most people have an excellent chance of preventing colorectal cancer if they get regular colon cancer screenings.

8. Consider genetic counseling

People who carry genetic mutations linked to hereditary colorectal cancer are the most likely to develop the disease. Individuals who carry the mutation that causes Familial Adenomatous Polyposis (FAP) have almost a 100% chance of developing colorectal cancer by age 45. Someone who carries mutations linked to Hereditary Non-Polyposis Colorectal Cancer (HNPCC) can have up to an 80% risk of developing the disease. FAP and HNPCC are the most common types of hereditary colorectal cancer. If you are a part of this population, you might want to consider genetic counseling.

9. Know your family medical history

Your family medical history (immediate and extended) can impact your chances of developing colorectal cancer. In general, you’re at increased risk if you have relatives who have been diagnosed with colorectal cancer or polyps, have colorectal cancer before age 60, died from stomach cancer or have a history of breast or ovarian cancer.
Making sure that your doctor is aware of your family medical history is an important step in colorectal cancer prevention.

10. Talk to your doctor about your personal medical history
Research indicates that women who’ve had breast, uterine, or ovarian cancer are at increased risk for developing colorectal cancer. Chronic inflammation of the bowel also increases the risk of developing colorectal cancer. Be sure to talk to your doctor about these.