The news for colon cancer is promising: Fewer people are dying from it, and the average number of new cases a year decreased by 66,000 over the course of four years, federal reports show. Colon cancer remains the nation's second most deadly cancer, but it doesn't have to be: Screening can find abnormal growths so they can be removed before the cancer starts, and tests can help find colorectal cancer early when it's easiest to treat.
Current recommendations say people should start being screened at age 50; people at an increased risk, such as those with a family history of colon cancer, may consider starting sooner. In addition to being screened, you should take these three steps:
Eat your broccoli. A recent study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that consuming vegetables from the brassica family -- including broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale and cabbage - appeared to reduce the risk of cancer in the upper colon.
Add whole grains. Three servings to your daily diet may help cut your risk of colon cancer by 20 percent, a recent research review shows. Scientists analyzed 25 studies that included a total of nearly 2 million people and found that a high-fiber diet is linked to a lower risk of colorectal cancer, especially if the fiber is from cereal and whole grains. What counts as a serving? One slice 100 percent whole-wheat bread; 1 cup 100 percent whole-grain ready-to-eat cereal; or 1/2 cup of cooked brown rice, cooked whole-wheat pasta or whole-grain oatmeal.
Watch your waist. Obesity is a known risk factor for colon cancer, but according to a report in the American Journal of Epidemiology, carrying the extra weight around your middle may matter most.
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