Aging And GI Issues: Colon Cancer

How many times have you gone to the doctor and had them ask about your level of physical activity? For most, it is a question that is asked at virtually all well visits, annual physical exams, and preventative screening appointments. Why is this question so important? According to the National Cancer Institute, regular physical activity can reduce the risk of developing colon cancerby 30-40% in comparison to their counterparts who are more sedentary, regardless of BMI.

How is exercise tied so closely to cancer, and how can we make sure to continue to keep our bodies in optimal shape, even when aging? The first connection is fairly straightforward: being obese can increase your risk of cancer, and exercising helps to keep your body at a healthy weight, thus lowering that risk factor. Other less obvious connections include that physical activity leads to more regular bowel movements, thus allowing cancer-causing substances in food to pass through the body more quickly. Physical activity also reduces levels of insulin and other hormones that can contribute to tumor growth. Finally, keeping your body in good shape helps to reduce inflammation of the bowels, leading to a lower risk of developing cancer in the digestive system.

So what is the best way to keep up a good, safe exercise routine as we age? If you already have a good routine, the best thing to do is to stay dedicated to it. Make the time every week to keep up with what you are doing. If you exercise a couple days a week, try stepping it up a notch and gradually add activity into the days you had previously taken off. If you’re not currently exercising, don’t think that your age is a reason to just write it off as not possible. Discuss your options with your doctor and choose an easy routine that you can work your way into and gradually build on as you get stronger and more comfortable with physical activity. The American Institute for Cancer Research recommends at least 30 minutes a day of moderate activity to aid in cancer prevention. Keeping your body in good shape, in tandem with regular physical exams and colon cancer screenings, can help you prevent colon cancer or to catch it early, leading to optimal treatment options. If you are over 50, it’s time for your colon cancer screening. Make an appointment with a TDDC Gastroenterologist at one of our convenient locations.