The colon is part of the body’s digestive system. The digestive system includes the esophagus, stomach, small and large intestine. The colon is the main part of the large intestine and on average is approximately five feet long. The digestive system is vital in processing nutrients from foods and passing waste out of the body.
Colon cancer is linked to the food passed through the bowels with risk factors including a high-fat, low fiber diet, excess body weight, physical inactivity, long term smoking, alcohol, low vitamin C/folate/calcium/selenium/flavones (to name a few). Hereditary and medical risk factors include family history, inherited genetic conditions such as Lynch syndrome, chronic inflammatory bowel disease such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, and type 2 diabetes. Risk decreases when you eat vegetables, eat fermented foods and eat less processed foods.
According to the National Cancer Institute, in 2017 there were an estimated 1,348,087 people living with colorectal cancer in the United States. The American Cancer Society reports that it expects 104,610 new colon cancer cases in 2020 making colorectal cancer the third most common cancer diagnosed in the United States (excludes various skin cancers).
Colon cancer is considered silent because symptoms appear at a very late stage. Does it have to be the silent killer?
Attention to the digestive system and its health is essential. You don’t need to wait until you see bloody stools or get an abnormal colonoscopy. Digestive abnormalities like maldigestion and malabsorption are very common. Then a disrupted microbial ecosystem, resulting from increased carbohydrates or frequent use of antibiotics or birth control pills, alters the balance of bacteria/yeasts/protozoa thereby lowering immune responses. Research continues to illustrate the significant impact of intestinal flora on health.
What can you do? Here are practical tips:
Gut health cannot be emphasized enough. Take simple steps now, for yourself and your loved ones. Be proactive. Learn about your body, how you feel after eating, and what you are eating. These are steps that you can do for yourself now.