Did you know there are some risk factors for colorectal cancer that you CAN change?? That’s right. There are! Here are 6 things that you can do to lower your risk of colorectal cancer:

Have Regular Screenings

You’ll often hear colonoscopies referred to as the “gold standard” of screening. This is because they can both find cancer and remove potentially precancerous growths called polyps. Since most cases of colorectal cancer start as polyps, colonoscopies essentially allow you to stop colorectal cancer before it even starts!

Eat Lots of Fruits, Veggies & Whole Grains (and Cut Back on Red/Processed Meats)

paper bag of fruits and veggies

Diets that include lots of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains have been linked with a decreased risk of colon or rectal cancer. Eat less red meat (beef, pork, or lamb) and processed meats (hot dogs and some luncheon meats), which have been linked with an increased risk of colorectal cancer.

Exercise Regularly

If you’re not physically active, you have a greater chance of developing colon cancer. Being more active can help lower your risk. Regular physical activity has many health benefits. Start by doing what exercise you can. Children and teens should get 60 or more minutes of physical activity per day, and adults at least two hours and 30 minutes per week. You can hit the gym, participate in classes that interest you, take a walk after dinner or play a game of catch or basketball!

Maintain a Healthy Weight

If you are overweight or obese (very overweight), your risk of developing and dying from colorectal cancer is higher. Being overweight (especially having a larger waistline) raises the risk of colon and rectal cancer in both men and women, but the link seems to be stronger in men. Eating healthier and increasing your physical activity can help you control your weight and reduce your risk.

Quit Smoking (or Don’t Start!)

People who have smoked tobacco for a long time are more likely than non-smokers to develop and die from colorectal cancer. Smoking is a well-known cause of lung cancer, but it’s linked to a lot of other cancers, too.

If you smoke and you want to quit, or know someone else who does, see the American Cancer Society guide to quitting tobacco. Getting help increases your chances of quitting successfully.

Limit Alcohol

Colorectal cancer has been linked to moderate to heavy alcohol use. Limiting alcohol use to no more than 2 drinks a day for men and 1 drink a day for women could have many health benefits, including a lower risk of many kinds of cancer.