How can I help prevent colorectal cancer?

To help prevent colorectal cancer you can do things like eating healthily and exercising. Cancer can be linked to lifestyle choices. A healthy person who is active and gets regular check ups has a lower chance of getting colorectal cancer than someone who is inactive and doesn't get regular check ups.

Dr. Erev E. Tubb, MD
Hematologist & Oncologist

Some risk factors for colorectal cancer, such as family history, are beyond your control. However, an estimated 50-75 percent of colorectal cancers can be prevented through lifestyle changes. So, lace up your sneakers and go for a walk, park further away from the office or grocery store, or simply take the stairs. Small changes can make a big difference in reducing your risk of developing colorectal cancer.

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Trinity Health is a Catholic health care organization that acts in accordance with the Catholic tradition and does not condone or support all practices covered in this site.  In case of emergency call 911. This site is educational and not a substitute for professional medical advice, always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare provider.

Charles (David) Whiting, PA

Colon cancer is completely preventable, says Charles Whiting, MD, Greenville Health System. Screening should begin at age fifty, unless there is a prior history with the patient, or prior family history of the disease. Learn more in this video.

Talk with your healthcare provider about your family history and other possible risk factors for colorectal cancer (cancer of the colon or rectum, both of which make up the large bowel).

Ask about screening tests and which test is best for you. In addition:

  • Have the regular preventive screening tests as recommended for you.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet, especially fruits and vegetables, along with a good intake of calcium, folate and fiber.
  • Ask your doctor what your ideal weight should be and work toward that goal.
  • Get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise most, if not all, days of the week.
  • Don't smoke.
  • Limit your alcohol intake.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

You can help keep your colon healthy by making some important lifestyle changes, including making sure to get a colonoscopy after age 50.

To learn more about colon health, watch this video by Dr. Oz.

Much of colon cancer risk deals with genetic predisposition. However, certain health habits have been identified as being potentially protective of the colon. The following health habits have been associated with a lower risk of colon cancer:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Limiting red meat consumption
  • Eating plenty of vegetables
  • Limiting alcohol intake
  • Being physically active
  • Eating a diet low in animal fat

Most important, regular screening at the appropriate time will help keep the odds in your favor. In the early stages, colon cancer is highly treatable. In many cases, spotting it early enough may be the only obstacle to a complete cure.

Dr. Daniel Labow, MD
Surgical Oncologist

A healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet, can help prevent colon cancer. But don't forget to get a colonscopy, too, says oncologist Daniel Labow, MD, of The Mount Sinai Medical Center.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.