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Colon Cancer Awareness Month

Pharmacy shelves are filled with expensive probiotics touting gut health, but simple dietary (and lifestyle) changes, along with regular medical tests, can help build a strong digestive system and decrease the risks of colon cancer.

One in 23 men and one in 25 women will develop colon cancer. The American Cancer Society predicts 104,610 new cases of colon cancer to be diagnosed in the United States this year. In the United States, colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in men and women. Colorectal cancer typically starts from a growth in the lining of the colon or rectum, called a polyp. Adenomas polyps may change into cancer over time and can be removed if they are detected during colonoscopies. The colon measures five feet long and is responsible for absorbing any of the remaining water and salt in food before it exits the body as waste, according to the American Cancer Society.

The good news is that early detection and screening are helping reduce the death rate from colorectal cancer. To highlight Colon Cancer Awareness Month in March, take time out of your busy schedule to visit an Any Lab Test Now location to get an annual screening test. The Colon Cancer Screening (Fit) Test is a valuable tool to ensure good colon health.

Are You at Risk?

Many lifestyle factors increase your risk of developing colorectal cancer. Physicians cite lack of regular exercise, low fiber and high-fat diets, obesity, alcohol consumption and tobacco use as risk factors, the Centers for Disease Control reports. Regular screening and dietary changes are key to avoiding colorectal cancer, according to the CDC. If you have a family history of colorectal cancer, it is important to be aware of some of the common signs of a problem and visit your physician.

Common signs include:

  • Blood in your stool.
  • Lingering stomach pain.
  • Unexplained weight loss.

Easy Steps to Improve Gut Health

Stress, lack of sleep, antibiotics and a diet of highly processed foods can damage the health of the gut. In addition to obvious lifestyle changes to lower the risk of colorectal cancer, there are five easy steps everyone can take to improve gut health and reduce their cancer risk.

Eat more vegetables. Increasing consumption of whole grains, fruits, nuts and vegetables provides essential fiber, an important component of digestion.

Add fermented foods. Fermented foods like kimchi, yogurt and sauerkraut contain natural probiotics, which can help improve your gut health.

Eat dark chocolate and foods with polyphenols. Polyphenols found in foods like berries, dark chocolate and certain spices help improve digestion.

Cut out artificial sweeteners. A study conducted on mice reveals artificial sweeteners altered their metabolism and damaged their gut bacteria.

Brush and floss your teeth. Medical professionals are exploring a link between excess plaque and gum disease as one cause of colon cancer.

Get Tested at Any Lab Test Now

If you have a family history of colon cancer, the Colon Cancer Screening (Fit) Test is an important tool in the early detection of blood in the stool that could indicate colon cancer. The Colorectal Cancer Alliance recommends adults start getting screened annually at age 45. People with a family history of colon cancer should start getting screened at 40, or 10 years before the age of the youngest case in your immediate family. People with certain autoimmune diseases, like ulcerative colitis, may need to be screened prior to age 45.

You do not need an appointment to take advantage of Any Lab Test Now’s affordable lab testing. Patients can receive results via mail, fax or pick them up at their testing location. The test results are in an easy-to-read format that clearly states if the test is within the normal range. You should share the results with your physician. If the Colon Cancer Screening (Fit) Test detects blood in your stool, your doctor will likely schedule a colonoscopy to determine the cause. A colonoscopy is a test conducted under sedation by a gastroenterologist. The outpatient procedure involves inserting a camera in the rectum to allow the doctor to examine the colon for abnormalities.

Reduce your risk of developing this silent cancer by adopting healthy habits and getting regular screenings. Visit your local Any Lab Test Now to find out about the Colon Cancer Screening (Fit) Test.