Many lifestyle-related risk factors can raise your chances of developing colon cancer. While some people who get the disease may not have any of the risk factors, it’s important to be aware of them.
Certain racial backgrounds, like African Americans, are more at risk to develop the disease. African Americans are disproportionately burdened by cancer in general, and colorectal cancer is no exception. According to the American Cancer Society, African Americans are about 20% more likely to get colorectal cancer and about 40% more likely to die from it than most other groups.
The reason behind this usually stems from lack of access to healthcare, diets high in fatty and processed foods, as well as not knowing about family health history.
From her conversation on BlackDoctor.org with Nurse Alice Benjamin and Dr. Scott Metcalfe from Bravo’s Married to Medicine, Dr. O’Connor discusses what risk factors can cause colon cancer and the rising diagnoses among the African American community.
Dr. Lynn O’Connor: There are a ton of risk factors we need to look at. Our lifestyle – a sedentary lifestyle – where we don’t even have to get up. We’ve got Uber Eats. We don’t even have to get off the couch to get our food. We’re not exercising as much. The American Heart Association says if you can exercise at least 30 minutes a day of moderate intensity. That can go a long way to stave off colon cancer. Smoking, that’s clearly something that we all know at this point in time is something we shouldn’t be doing. It’s also not getting enough fruits and vegetables and fiber. It’s loading up on those nitrites and processed foods. We’ve got to stop with the Burger King and the McDonald’s and Taco Bell.
Everything is in moderation. But if that’s your diet and that’s what you’re eating, you’re not doing the things you need to be doing in terms of exercise and eating right. Getting enough rest and decreasing your stress. One thing we need to be addressing is the disparities in healthcare and the disparities in access to healthcare that plagues a lot of African Americans and low income status folks as a whole. We’re not getting the information out that we need to be screened, we don’t have the access and we don’t have the screening which really is what’s driving the numbers.