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Why are young people more prone to colon cancer? 5 lifestyle modifications that can reduce its risk

According to the expert, by addressing lifestyle factors, increasing awareness, and expanding access to screening and preventive services, we can work towards reversing this alarming trend and reducing the burden of colon cancer on younger generations.

Written By : Health Desk Edited By : Kristina Das
New Delhi
Published on: March 04, 2024 19:30 IST
colon cancer
Image Source : FREEPIK Tips to reduce the risk of colon cancer in young people.

One kind of cancer that starts in the colon or rectum is called colon cancer, often known as colorectal cancer. The digestive system's colon and rectum are in charge of breaking down food and getting rid of waste. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that it accounts for around 10% of all cancer cases worldwide and is the third most common cancer overall as well as the second most common cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide.

It typically develops from abnormal growths called polyps, which may initially be benign but can become cancerous over time. These polyps can grow along the inner lining of the colon or rectum, and if left untreated, may invade nearby tissues and spread to other parts of the body, a process known as metastasis.

There has been a concerning trend of colon cancer affecting young people in recent years. While traditionally, colon cancer has been associated with older individuals, there's been an evident increase in diagnoses among younger adults.

Dr Manish Sharma, Senior Medical Oncologist at Action Cancer Hospital, New Delhi and Medical oncologist at Cancer Care Clinic Faridabad said, “While there are certain hereditary predispositions to colon cancer, external factors are most likely to blame for the significant rise in incidents. A person's risk of acquiring colorectal cancer is increased by smoking, having inflammatory bowel disease, eating poorly, being obese, and drinking excessive alcohol”.

The rise in colon cancer incidence among younger adults underscores the importance of raising awareness about the disease's signs and symptoms. While symptoms such as rectal bleeding, changes in bowel habits, abdominal pain, and unexplained weight loss are often associated with colon cancer, they can be overlooked or attributed to other causes in younger individuals. Heightened awareness and proactive screening are essential for early detection and treatment.

Dr Manish Sharma suggested a few lifestyle modifications that can reduce the risk of colon cancer:

Reduce your intake of red meat: Colon cancer has been linked to heavy red meat consumption, especially when it comes to processed or burned meats. While cooking, it may affect the production of compounds that cause cancer because of its high fat and protein content. The processing or cooking techniques used on red meat, such as grilling or smoking, may also be related. When cooked at such high temperatures, they can produce carcinogens linked to cancer. Instead, switch to plant protein and lean protein meals like fish and chicken are two other great sources of protein.

Eat less sugar: Frequent intake of sugar-filled beverages has been linked to a higher risk of developing breast and colon cancer, among other cancers. Consuming a lot of sugar can increase insulin resistance and obesity, two conditions that increase the chance of developing several cancers. Furthermore, the metabolism of sugars may contribute to the proliferation of cancer cells. Dr. Sharma notes that while research has been done, the results are conflicting about whether artificial sweeteners raise the risk of cancer. Just as he advocates consuming sugar in moderation, he also suggests using artificial sweeteners in moderation.

Eat a lot of fibre: There are many advantages to including fibre in our diet, such as lowering constipation, controlling blood sugar surges, and strengthening heart and intestinal health. Additionally, it can lower the chance of developing colon cancer. Dietary fibre has several important roles in colon cancer prevention according to a 2018 review of studies. These roles include promoting better bowel movements and lowering the quantity of carcinogens created during digestion.

Cut down on alcohol: The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention states that alcohol consumption raises the risk of mouth and throat, colon and rectum, liver, and breast cancers, among other cancer types. The National Cancer Institute states that even moderate drinking is linked to an elevated risk of colon cancer. This is because alcohol is broken down by the body into the chemical acetaldehyde, which destroys cell DNA and may allow cells to start multiplying uncontrollably, which is how malignant tumours originate.

(With IANS Inputs)

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