As screenings and preventive measures for colorectal cancer became prioritized, cancer deaths in older adults began to decline. However, this progress may be reversed as colorectal cancer becomes more prevalent in younger people. While colorectal cancer used to only threaten adults over the age of 50, adults in their 20s, 30s, and 40s are more at risk for developing cancer than ever before. Doctors and researchers are trying to discern the reason for this and the evidence is becoming more and more clear. Perhaps, the greatest risk factor for colorectal cancer at an early age is obesity. You’ve been told how important diet and exercise is to your overall health. It’s time to start taking it seriously.

The Dangers of Obesity

Obesity is diagnosed when someone has a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher. This indicates an excessive amount of fat in the body. Obesity can cause a whole host of health problems like heart disease, high blood pressure, joint pain, diabetes, and cancer. In the last 30 years, the rate of obesity in America has more than doubled. This epidemic is causing more health problems at a faster rate in younger people. The sad fact is, obesity is completely preventable which means that cancer might be also.

Researchers from the American Cancer Society learned that one in twelve cancer cases was caused by obesity. Obesity and physical inactivity may be on the rise because of the access to “binge-watch” television. A recent study reported in JNCI Cancer Spectrum reveals that young women who watch at least one hour of TV every day are 12% more likely to receive a colorectal cancer diagnosis. Shockingly, the risk for cancer diagnosis rose to 70% in women who watch at least two hours of TV daily. While more research needs to be done on the link between sitting (television) and cancer, these findings you should not be ignored.

Preventing Obesity

We were not created to sit all day, every day. If you have a job that requires you to spend the majority of your day in a state of physical rest, it is not in your best interest to go home and sit in front of the TV. The Surgeon General recommends that adults participate in a minimum of two hours and thirty minutes of physical activity every week. A sedentary lifestyle is one of the major risk factors of both obesity and colorectal cancer. Find a friend or an activity you enjoy and make sure you exercise on a regular basis.

Obesity can also be prevented or reversed when you eat a healthy diet. Avoid high-calorie foods, foods high in fat, and beverages that are high-calorie like soda and alcohol. When you go out to eat, share a meal or immediately have half of your meal packaged to-go to avoid eating an oversized portion. Make sure your diet is full of fresh fruits and vegetables, and lean meats. You may need to put in a lot of effort to transform your daily habits, but it will be totally worth it when you protect your body from colorectal cancer.

If you have concerns about your overall health or your risk for colorectal cancer, make an appointment at Cary Gastroenterology today.