It’s hard not to feel sad and defenseless when someone mentions cancer. We wish we could announce a “miracle drug” that would eradicate this heart-shattering, painful disease- but not yet. Colon cancer is the third most common cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death in both men and women living in the United States. While colon cancer is genetically influenced, lifestyle choices and regular screenings can help these individuals (and those with no family history of colon cancer) avoid this cancer or fight it early.
Regular screening (however undesirable it may be…) are very effective in preventing colorectal cancer. Screenings may find and remove polyps (abnormal tissue growth) before they turn cancerous. The five-year survival rate is 90% if detected early and regular screenings could prevent up to 1/3 of deaths due to colon cancer. Most doctors recommend screening beginning at 50, however, if you have a family history of colorectal cancer consult with your doctor about when you should begin screening. Remember, catching it early is key!
Unlike some other cancers, colon cancer may be prevented with food choices, exercise, and maintaining a healthy weight. Obesity increases the risk of colon cancer by 30% and obese patients are more likely to have complications and poor treatments outcomes. Smokers are 14% more likely to die from colon cancer within five years than non-smoking patients. “Other risk factors include heavy alcohol use, lack of exercise and diets high in red and processed meats.”
February 2018, Yale University released research on nut consumption and colon cancer survival. Their synopsis was that “people with stage III colon cancer who regularly eat nuts are at a significantly lower risk of cancer recurrence and mortality than those who don’t…” In a study of 826 participants over the span of 6.5 years after treatment and chemotherapy, those that consumed at least two, one-ounce servings of nuts each week demonstrated 42% improvement in disease-free survival and 57% improvement in overall survival! Walnuts consumption specifically may slow colon cancer growth! While more research needs to understand exactly why walnuts are linked to better gut health and greater satiety. It fills us so we eat less and less desirable options. Hence, those that eat nuts tend to be leaner. Walnuts are filled with omega-3 fatty acids that may slow colon tumor growth!
It always seems the same answers: eat healthily and exercise and yet so many of us struggle with these two things. Find one way that you can improve your health today! If that’s as simple as setting up an appointment for a colon screening or bringing a handful of walnuts with you to work- do it! Small changes now can make huge changes in a decade or two to come.