Colon cancer, sometimes called colorectal cancer, is when cells in the colon or rectum grow abnormally.
The topic of cancer can be hard to talk about but it’s important to learn what to be on the lookout for. Keep reading to learn more about this third most common type of cancer in the US and why fiber is your friend.
What Causes Colon Cancer?
The cause of colorectal cancer remains unknown as it forms when the DNA cells in the colon and rectum mutate and have unmanageable growth that tends to attack the immune system. Some of these mutated cells grow out of control forming a tumor.
Symptoms of Colon Cancer
So what should you be on the lookout for?
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome. This can be in the form of diarrhea or constipation.
- Changes in stool consistency. Look out for stringy and loose poops.
- Blood. Observe if your stool looks dark brown or black or if you see bright red bleeding coming from the rectum.
- Pain in the abdominal area, stomach cramps, bloating, and gas
- Unexplained weight loss
There’s not much difference when it comes to gender-based symptoms for colon cancer. Females may have anemia, a condition when the amount of red blood cells is lower than normal.
Stages of Colon Cancer
Colon cancer can be categorized into stages that indicate the scope of spread and the size of its tumors.
- Stage zero. The cancer is in a very early stage and has not grown farther than the inner layer of the colon. This stage is usually easy to treat.
- Stage 1. The next layer of tissue in the colon has been reached by cancer.
- Stage 2. At this stage, cancer has already reached the outer layers of the colon but has not spread.
- Stage 3. At this stage, the cancer has gone through the outer layers of the colon and reached one to three lymph nodes but has not yet reached andspread to distant parts.
- Stage 4. Cancer has grown and has reached other tissues beyond the wall of the colon and as it advances, it reaches other parts of the body.
Risk Factors for Getting Colon Cancer
Certain risk factors are associated with colon cancer. These include:
- Age. Colorectal cancer can be diagnosed at any age, but a majority of people with colon cancer are older than 50.
- Race. Those of the African-American race have a greater risk of colon cancer than people of other races.
- Personal history of colorectal cancer or polyps. If you've already had colon cancer or noncancerous colon polyps, you have a greater risk of colon cancer in the future.
- Intestinal condition. Chronic inflammatory diseases like Crohn's disease, and ulcerative colitis may have the possibility to have an increased risk of colon cancer.
- Family history of colon cancer. If you have a blood relative who has had colon cancer, you’re more likely to develop it.
- People diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. People with insulin resistance or diabetes have an increased risk of colon cancer.
- High-fat, low-fiber diet. One study found an increased risk of colon cancer in people who eat diets high in red meat and processed meat.
- Obesity and sedentary lifestyle. People who are obese have an increased risk of getting colon cancer. Those who live an inactive lifestyle are also more likely to develop colon cancer.
- Smoking and drinking alcohol increases the risk of colon cancer.
Prevention of Colon Cancer
Although the cause of colon cancer remains a mystery, there are ways to prevent it like screening tests and lifestyle changes. If it’s found early, the 5-year survival rate is more than 90%!
Screening tests are a proactive way to find out if there are polyps as their growth in the colon or rectum may turn into cancer. Different tests are used to determine the possibility of having colorectal cancer, the stage of cancer present, anddetermine what treatment will be recommended.
The American Cancer Society recommends starting screening at age 45 for those people at average risk. There are different screening tests that can be used to find polyps or colorectal cancer. Some examples are:
Stool Tests. There are three types of stool tests that can be done for screening:
- Guaiac-based fecal occult blood test (gFOBT) is a testfor blood in the urine or feces.
- The fecal immunochemical test (FIT) uses antibodies to see if there’s blood in the stool; and
- The FIT-DNA test (also known as the stool DNA test), collects an entire bowel movement for the laboratory to detect altered DNA and the presence of blood.
Flexible Sigmoidoscopy. A procedure is done by the doctor where a flexible lighted tube is inserted in your rectum and lower part of the colon to check for polyps or cancer.
Colonoscopy. You may hear this a lot when it comes to medical tests for colon cancer. Like flexible sigmoidoscopy, except that the doctor uses a longer flexible lighted tube to check for polyps and cancer. This is also used as a follow-up test if there is any abnormality found during other screening tests.
Computed tomography (CT) Colonography (also called Virtual Colonoscopy) uses X-rays and computers to take photos of the entire colon, which are submitted and used by doctors for medical interpretation.
To determine the right screening test for you, it is best to consult with your medical doctor so you can discuss your preferences, medical condition, medical history, and other factors that would help with the treatment.
If after a screening test colon cancer is identified, the treatments available to you depend on the cancer’s stage such as surgery, prescription medication or therapies like radiation, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy.
Lifestyle Changes to Prevent Colon Cancer
- Change your diet and add more fiber. Replace the frequency of your red meat consumption (pork, beef, lamb) with vegetables, fruits, and whole grains as this diet has been linked with a decreased risk of colon or rectal cancer.
- Get moving. Lack of physical activity leads to a greater chance of developing colon cancer and the more physically active you are, the lesser the risk.
- Manage your weight. Being obese or overweight increases the risk of getting and dying from colorectal cancer.
- Limit smoking and drinking. This means reducing or eliminating smoking and alcohol. Longtime smokers are more likely to develop and die from colorectal cancer. While those who frequently drink alcohol have a higher risk of getting colorectal cancer.
How Fiber Can Help with Colon Cancer
As we talked about earlier, diet plays a huge role in the prevention of colon cancer, and a low-fiber and high-fat diet increases the risk.
Yes, it's even more important to get enough daily fiber! A study showed that fiber may decrease the risk of colorectal cancer as speeds up how fast food flows through the digestivesystem in turn reduced the time potential carcinogens hang out in the intestines.
You can find high-fiber foods in vegetables and fruits like lentils, kidney beans, oats, apples, almonds, chia seeds, and even dark chocolate.
The USDA recommends that women get 25 grams of fiber a day and men 38 grams. Sadly, 95% of Americans are not even meeting this number. But the good news is you can also add fiber to your diet by taking natural fiber supplements like Bonny.
Bonny is Here to Help
Bonny is a prebiotic fiber powder that’s great for the colon and helps you hit your daily fiber numbers. Bonny contains more than 5+ grams of fiber per serving or 17%+ of your daily fiber. Our product has a custom blend of psyllium husk and prebiotic inulin. As a bonus, Bonny is vegan, gluten-free, and plant-based.
What makes Bonny different is that it is available in amazing-tasting flavors like Apple Pie, Mixed Ripe Berries, and Super Strawberry. A tablespoon of Bonny powder popped in a glass of cool water already helps you get added grams of the recommended dietary fiber.
As always, we wish you a healthy colon and pleasant poops!