Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month
Since 1999, March has been designated as National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, so we thought it would be a great time to share some information about colon cancer and tips to lower your risk.
Colorectal Cancer Fast Facts
- Colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S.
- Roughly 25-30 percent of colorectal cancer patients have a family history.
- One in 23 men will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer.
- One in 25 women will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer.
- Colorectal cancer is preventable with screening, and an estimated 60 percent of colorectal cancer deaths could be prevented with screening.
Preventing Colorectal Cancer
- Get screened. The number one way to prevent colorectal cancer is by getting your regular screenings, or tests that look for signs of cancer before symptoms develop. Common screenings include a colonoscopy and take home options, and the American Cancer Society recommends you be screened starting at age 45 if you have average risk. Colorectal cancer is fully treatable if it’s caught and treated early enough.
- Eat healthy. A diet with lots of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains is associated with a lower risk of colorectal cancer. Eating less red meat (beef, pork, and lamb) and processed meat (hot dogs and lunch meats) can also lower your risk.
- Not exercising can raise your risk of many cancers, including colorectal cancer. Aim to get 150 minutes of exercise each week.
- Control your weight. While it can be easier said than done, losing weight if you’re overweight or obese can reduce your risk of dying from colorectal cancer. If losing weight is a struggle, we have some tips for you down below!
- Don’t smoke. Smoking increases your risk of many cancers, including colorectal cancer, so quit smoking if you already smoke and don’t start if you don’t smoke currently.
- Avoid alcohol. Drinking alcohol has been associated with a higher risk of colorectal cancer, so avoid it if you can.
Weight Loss Tips
Taking control of your weight if you’re overweight and obese has many health benefits, but it can also help you to look and feel your best too. If you’re struggling to lose weight and keep it off, these tips should help.
- Eat slowly and mindfully. Eating slowly and really paying attention to every bite helps you to truly enjoy and savor the food you’re eating. However, it also helps you to stay in tune with when you’re really full and avoid overeating.
- Keep a journal. It might sound silly, but keeping a journal may help you to lose weight by helping you tune in to when you’re stressed. Many people eat more or eat less healthy, “comfort” foods when they’re stressed and realizing that can help you work on other strategies to manage your stress.
- Don’t forget weights. If you’re eating healthy and getting your cardio in, but still not losing weight, add in some weightlifting. Weightlifting increases your body’s muscle mass, which helps the food you eat be used as fuel, rather than stored as fat.
- Get enough sleep. Not getting enough sleep can affect your hormones and contribute to weight gain. When you’re well rested, you don’t crave unhealthy foods as much, you’re in a better mood, and you make better choices.
- Don’t skip meals. Skipping meals to lose weight is actually counterintuitive. Your body will crave more calorie dense foods to sustain itself, and you won’t be able to keep weight off long term.
- Drink water. Being thirsty can sometimes mask itself as hunger, causing you to eat when you’re not actually hungry. Drinking water also makes you more full, which can help you to eat less at meal times.
- Reorganize your plate. Most of us focus on meat being the focus of our plate with some kind of carb as an important second. Try to make half of your plate vegetables, a quarter whole grains, and a quarter lean protein instead.
- Don’t focus on the scale. While losing weight is likely important to you if you’re reading this, it shouldn’t be the only thing you focus on, especially since lack of progress on the scale can be so discouraging. Take regular photos and measurements of yourself in addition to weighing yourself to get a full picture of where you’re at. It’s also a good idea to keep other non-scale victories in mind (like being able to walk up the stairs without getting winded, lower cholesterol levels at the doctor, etc.) if you get discouraged easily.
If you’re eating healthy, exercising regularly, and following these tips and still having trouble losing weight, our new weight loss program can help (link to weight loss page).
- 1 medium red bell pepper
- ½ medium yellow onion
- 2 small or 1 large squash
- 1 medium eggplant
- 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes
- 3 gloves garlic
- ¼ cup fresh basil leaves
- 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided, and more as needed
- Prepare the following, placing each vegetable in a separate pile on a rimmed baking sheet as you complete them: Thinly slice 1 medium red bell pepper (about 1 1/2 cups) and 1/2 medium yellow onion (about 1 1/2 cups); halve 2 small summer squash and 1 medium Japanese eggplant lengthwise (quarter lengthwise if wider than 2-inches), then cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick pieces (about 2 3/4 cups squash, 2 cups eggplant); halve 1 cup cherry tomatoes; finely chop 2 to 3 garlic cloves; coarsely chop 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves.
- Heat a large frying pan or wok over medium-high heat until a bead of water dances when dropped in the pan, 2 to 4 minutes.
- Drizzle 2 tablespoons of the olive oil around the perimeter of the pan. Add the eggplant, season with 1/4 teaspoon of the kosher salt, and toss to coat in the oil. Spread out into an even layer and cook, stirring occasionally with a metal spatula, until crisp-tender and browned in spots, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl. Repeat cooking the summer squash in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon of the kosher salt. Transfer to the bowl.
- Reduce the heat to medium and drizzle in the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the bell pepper, onion, and garlic, and season with 1/4 teaspoon of the kosher salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and season with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until starting to soften and the juices release, about 4 minutes.
- Return the eggplant, squash, and any accumulated juices to the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through, about 1 minute. Taste and season with more salt and pepper as needed. Sprinkle with the basil and serve over crostini, cooked orzo, or cooked pasta if desired.