Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month is here and the Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada (CCAC) takes great pride in announcing this year’s new campaign SAVEBUTTS.CA gauged to encourage colon cancer screening in Canada as well as support for the CCAC’s mission of colorectal cancer Awareness, Education, Support and Advocacy.

The CCAC continues to promote the introduction of population based screening programs in every province and to lead the way in encouraging individuals to get screened through various television, radio and print campaigns coupled with the use of grass roots programs spearheaded by The Giant Colon exhibits that criss-cross the country.

“New research led by the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in the US has for the first time found that removing precancerous polyps may halve the risk of dying from the disease. This underscores the CCAC’s position that timely screening must be a health priority in Canada,” said Barry D. Stein president of the CCAC. To bolster their message that colon cancer is Preventable, Treatable and Beatable, the CCAC is launching a multimedia program asking the public more than ever to help support the CCAC in every way possible by spreading the message that timely screening can save lives.

CCAC's own Frank Pitman and Michelle Sylvestre sport blue on National Dress in Blue Day

The CCAC is also launching its first annual National Dress in Blue Day to bring nationwide attention to colorectal cancer and to celebrate the courage of those touched by this disease. The CCAC is asking the public to participate by wearing blue and donating to the CCAC on March 2nd, 2012 to help promote colorectal cancer awareness.

“This year in Canada, over 22,200 thousand men and women will be diagnosed with the disease and about 8,900 will die from it”, says Stein. “So there is no time like the present to start doing what you can to prevent the disease”. With that in mind here are 10 things you can do to help prevent it:

1. Go to a doctor if you have any colon cancer symptoms.
Usually, colon cancer doesn’t have any symptoms. However, in the later stages, symptoms may include thin or bloody stools, cramping, and unexplained weight loss.

2. If you’re 50 or older, get screened.
More than 90 percent of people diagnosed with colon cancer are 50 or older and the average age of diagnosis is 64. Research indicates that by age 50, one in four people has polyps. The single best way to prevent colorectal cancer is to get screened for the disease and screened regularly.

3. Eat a balanced diet.
Studies have revealed that a diet high in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats has been linked to a decreased risk of colorectal cancer. Conversely, a diet high in red meat, refined foods, and unhealthy fats has been linked to an increased risk of the disease.

4. Maintain a healthy weight.
Excess body weight and obesity have been clearly linked to an increased risk of colorectal cancer, making it vital to maintain a healthy weight throughout life to help prevent the disease.

5. Maintain an active lifestyle.
Studies have shown that those who engage in regular, moderate exercise such as brisk walking, dancing, and skating are at a lower risk of developing colorectal cancer than those who are inactive. Exercising can reduce colon cancer risk by as much as 40 percent. Exercise also tends to reduce the incidence of other risk factors for colon cancer, like obesity and diabetes.

6. Consider genetic counselling.
People who carry genetic mutations linked to hereditary colon cancer are the most likely to develop the disease. If someone in your family has FAP or HNPCC consult your physician and ask about colorectal cancer screening.

7. Learn your family medical history.
Remember advise your physician about family members who have had polyps or colon cancer. It is also important to discuss it with your own family members as well so they are aware of the risk in the family and can be screened.

8. Talk to a doctor about your personal medical history.
As you may have guessed, discussing your own medical history is extremely important when it comes to colon cancer prevention. Don’t assume they know everything about you.

9. Don’t smoke.
Stop smoking. Smoking is significantly associated with colorectal cancer incidence. It increases your risk for two main reasons. First, inhaled or swallowed tobacco smoke transports carcinogens to the colon. Second, tobacco use appears to increase polyp size.

10. Reduce alcohol consumption.
Reduce your alcohol consumption. Regular consumption of alcohol in excess has been shown to increase the risk of developing colorectal cancer.