Turning 45? The American Cancer Society issued an update on colonoscopy guidelines in May of 2018, changing the recommended routine screening from 50 years of age down to 45 years. Why the change? The ACS conducted a study examining colorectal cancer risk and the association with year of birth. It was discovered that the risk has been increasing about 1-3% every year from 1980 to 2013 for adults 20-39 years. Per this study, risk was lowest if born in 1950s. If born in 1990, risk quadrupled that of people born in the 1950s.
Why the increase in cancer rates? Genetic predisposition has been an ongoing risk, along with inflammatory bowel disease, the presence of polyps and the presence of other cancers. Obesity has been correlated with a high risk of developing colorectal cancer. Obesity rates have increased from 10% to 35% since the 1950s which may shed light on why colorectal cancer rates are rapidly increasing. One could postulate that increasing air pollution, chemical toxins and increase in overall stress contribute to higher risk of health complications, one being cancer.
During a colonoscopy, the practitioner looks for mucosal abnormalities, polyps being the most common. Polyps are abnormal tissue growth considered precancerous. They develop secondary to mucosal irritation and inflammation. Polyps can be removed during colonoscopies, thus reducing your risk of developing colorectal cancer.
What can you do to prevent colorectal cancer?
1) Move your body everyday. Exercise. Sweat. Get outside.
2) Eat clean foods. Stick with grass fed pasture raised proteins. Eat organic as much as possible. Eat locally grown, locally raised meats and produce. Know where your food comes from.
3) Work on healthy coping mechanisms for stress; yoga, meditation, exercise, counseling.
4) Avoid tobacco.
5) Avoid or limit alcohol. The ACS recommends no more than 2 drinks per day for men and 1 drink for women.
6) Check for blood in your stool with a FIT (Fecal occult) test or have your colonoscopy screening per ACS recommendations. Check with your insurance provider for coverage related to the newer guidelines.
7) Discuss risk factors, diet, exercise and lifestyle with your primary care provider to help lower your risk!