March Celebrates National Colorectal Cancer Prevention; United Security Life and Health Insurance Company’s Medical Director Offers Tips In Preventing The Deadly Disease

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Leonard Hertko, MD, FACP, Medical Director for United Security Life and Health Insurance Company (USL&H) offers tips on preventing colorectal cancer. Colorectal cancer is the second deadest form of cancer for both men and women.

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Prevention habits for colorectal cancer are nearly identical to those that help prevent coronary artery disease and heart attacks. By following several key life-long habits will greatly reduce a person’s risk of developing both deadly diseases

Leonard Hertko, MD, FACP, Medical Director for United Security Life and Health Insurance Company (USL&H) offers tips on preventing colorectal cancer. Colorectal cancer is the second deadest form of cancer for both men and women.

Leonard Hertko, MD, FACP, Medical Director, USL&H began, “According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is expected to cause about 51,000 deaths during 2013. (http://www.cancer.org) The good news is that the death rate for colorectal cancer has been dropping for more than 20 years. Screening is allowing colorectal cancer to be detected earlier. In addition, aggressive surgery and chemotherapy have improved over the last 10 years.”

In addition to colorectal screenings, there are a number of preventative measures that can be followed that will reduce the risk of colorectal caner. Dr. Hertko added, “Prevention habits for colorectal cancer are nearly identical to those that help prevent coronary artery disease and heart attacks. By following several key life-long habits will greatly reduce a person’s risk of developing both deadly diseases.”

Dr. Hertko recommends to:

Get screened: It is recommended that age 50 preventative screenings begin for colorectal cancer. One type of screening, a colonoscopy, should be preformed on anyone with a change of bowel habits, unexplained abdominal cramps, visible blood on the stool, or pencil thin stools.

A second screening test often preformed is a stool test for occult blood (i.e. blood not seen with the naked eye). The test should be performed yearly after age 50, or at age 40 if a first degree relative has had colon cancer. Your doctor has kits that allow for home testing of three consecutive stools for this purpose. The reason for this test is that almost all colorectal cancers or large polyps will bleed to a slight degree, not enough to be visible to the naked eye, but enough to be detected by a stool occult blood test. A new test that can detect cancer DNA is not yet widely available.

Avoid red meat and processed meats: Numerous studies have linked red-meat consumption, as well as diets heavy in processed, salted, smoked, or cured meats such as bacon, sausage, and hot dogs to a higher risk of colorectal cancer.

Begin an aspirin regimen: Consider the use of regular, not low dose aspirin, if previous colon polyps were present in you or a close relative had colon cancer. The aspirin has been shown to inhibit polyp or cancer growth. The problem is that the large dose of aspirin can cause ulcers and GI bleeding.

Do not smoke: Most people know smoking causes lung cancer and heart attacks, but is also increase the risk of colorectal cancer.

Watch abdominal obesity: Obesity is linked to colon-cancer risk, especially for men. Evidence shows that abdominal obesity—aka belly fat—may be the key factor.    Big bellies increase the risk of a host of other diseases, from heart disease to diabetes, that is why focusing on your midsection is especially important.

Exercise: There's strong evidence that exercise cuts the risk of colon cancer and polyps, and sedentary living increases it. Dr. Hertko recommends getting at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity at least five days a week. However, check with your physician before beginning an exercise program.

A health diet: Adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D have been shown to prevent colorectal cancer. In addition, choose a healthy diet to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Eat more vegetables, fruits and whole grains. These actions may reduce the risk of developing many types of cancer as well as other diseases.

Family history: Heredity plays a big role in colon cancer. Statistics show that up to 20% of people who develop colorectal cancer have a relative with the disease. It is important to find out if your relatives had colorectal cancer or polyps and how old they were when they were diagnosed.    If one of your first-degree relatives (a parent, sibling, or child) developed colorectal cancer or polyps before age 60, colorectal screenings for the disease should begin at age 40, or 10 years before the age at which that relative was diagnosed, whichever comes first.

About United Security Life and Health Insurance:
USL&H is a regional insurance carrier that offers cancer, critical illness, accident hospital indemnity plan, dental plus vision and hearing, disability income, health and life insurance products to individuals and families. Founded in 1973, USL&H is licensed to sell its products in Arizona, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, and Nebraska through a network of independent insurance agents. For more information on USL&H please visit the company’s website at http://www.uslandh.com.

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