Colon cancer prevention tips

September 24, 2012 1:59:29 PM PDT
This year, 150,000 people will be told they have colon cancer, and 50,000 will die from it.

Dr. Zuri Murrell, colorectal surgeon at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in California, shared tips on colon health.

"Colon cancer is the number two cancer killer in America of both men and women," said Dr. Murrell.

Colon cancer is second only to lung cancer. The statistics have led to the revision of colonoscopy guidelines. White men and women should get their first colonoscopy at 50 if there is no family history. But for African Americans, the age has changed to 45.

"Colonoscopies are done to prevent cancer. And I think that's what makes this disease so preventable and so treatable," said Dr. Murrell.

Preparation for a colonoscopy has also changed. Traditionally, patients would have to drink 4 liters of a distasteful prescribed liquid the day before a colonoscopy. Now patients can drink 64 ounces of Gatorade, mixed with 230 grams of Miralax and three tablespoons of milk of magnesia.

"It tastes better and it can be bought over the counter without needing a prescription," said Dr. Murrell.

To cut your risk of colon cancer, experts advise to reduce or eliminate the consumption of hot dogs and pork.

The Texas Medical Association says hot dogs are full of nitrites and increase the risk of cancer. And according to the American Cancer Society, pork may worsen colon health because it is high in fat and iron.

The number one food to avoid, according to Dr. Murrell, is beef. "We know the people who don't get it. Don't eat a lot of red meats," said Dr. Murrell.

Soon there may be an at-home screening test to make the entire process even easier and more private.

The experimental DNA test can find abnormalities in a person's stool and possibly alert them to any pre-cancerous tumors. In a recent study, the DNA test detected 87 percent of colorectal cancers in curable stages.

For more information on medical breakthroughs, visit ivanhoe.com.


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