Aging does not always feel graceful. We try to stay healthy and in shape to keep the outside looking good, but staying on top of our inner health becomes even more important as we age. Closing out our series on the effect aging has on our gastrointestinal system, we will look at colon cancer.
What Is The Risk?
While colon cancer is possible in the younger population, 90% of cases are in people over the age of 50. Once you hit age 50 your risks of developing colon cancer greatly increase. It is common for people to gain weight, be less active and have poor diets in the older population. All of these things put you at a greater risk for colon cancer. Other common risk factors for colon cancer include being a smoker, heavy alcohol use, family history of colon cancer and being a type 2 diabetic. The more risk factors you have, the greater your risk. It is important to talk with your doctor about your risk factors and to not miss screenings as recommended.
What Can You Do?
Knowing your risk factors and the signs and symptoms of colon cancer could save your life. Early detection of colon cancer makes it much more treatable or even curable. Common symptoms of colon cancer include changes in your bowel habits, blood in your stool, persistent abdominal pain and unintentional weight loss. You can help to decrease your risks of colon cancer by maintaining a healthy weight, being active, eating healthier with less red meat and more fruits and vegetables, not smoking and limited alcohol intake.
The most important thing you can do to prevent colon cancer is schedule your screening colonoscopy at age 50! Screenings save lives, and screenings done by a board certified gastroenterologist are more accurate. You can schedule an appointment with Dr. Sameer Islam here. Don’t put off something that could save your life!
Getting older does bring changes, but being prepared can make them easier. Talk with Dr. Islam at the first sign of changes and take charge of your own health.