Raise awareness on colon health

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.

Of cancers that affect both men and women, colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States, which is why prevention, early detection and treatment is so important.

A recent study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute showed a significant increase in the number of colorectal cancer cases among people under age 50, with one-third of cases between 1974 and 2013 affecting people in the Generation X and millennial age groups. During that same period, rates dropped for people over 50, due in large part to more widespread screening.

Although this news may sound alarming, the risk of colorectal cancer among people under 50 is still quite low, and can be reduced by making good lifestyle choices.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force found that taking low-dose aspirin can help prevent colorectal cancer in some adults, depending on age and risk factors. Some studies suggest that people may reduce their risk of developing colorectal cancer by increasing physical activity, limiting alcohol consumption, and avoiding tobacco.

Overall, the most effective way to reduce your risk of colorectal cancer is by having regular colorectal cancer screening tests beginning at age 50, or sooner if you have a family history of colorectal cancer.

Talk to your Primary Care Physician (PCP) about which colorectal cancer screening test is right for you, and when you should have it. To learn more, please read this Sharp Health News article on the six most common questions about colorectal cancer.