As we mark the National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, experts have offered advice on screening and proposed some simple steps that may enhance colon health into old age.
The American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy says that colon cancer is one of the most preventable diseases if pre-cancerous conditions are diagnosed and treated in time, and intense awareness campaigns in recent years have had a clear impact.
"The good news is that death rates are declining from colorectal cancer,” says Dr. John L. Petrini, the society’s president, "The bad news is that only about half of those who should be screened are doing so."
Meanwhile, Dr. Kim Turgeon, a gastroenterologist at the University of Michigan Health System, has drawn attention to diverticulosis, a benign condition affecting as many as one in three Americans over the age of 65.
While not dangerous in itself, diverticulosis, if not controlled, may lead to inflammation which in turn increases the risk of developing colon cancer.
According to Dr. Turgeon, lifestyle changes, such as exercise, can go a long way towards preventing or relieving symptoms associated with diverticulosis.
Moreover, people can reduce complications by keeping bowels moving well by drinking lots of fluids and making sure that their diet is rich in fiber.
For those who are unable to achieve proper fiber intake from food, nutritional supplements may be a good option.