Simple Ways to Reduce Your Risk for Colorectal Cancer

By Taylor Smith 

Colorectal cancer is a cancer that starts in the colon or the rectum. Cells in nearly all parts of the body can become cancerous, but most colorectal cancers start with growths on the inner lining of the colon or rectum, called polyps. Some types of polyps change into cancer over time and others never become cancerous. Neal Luppescu, MD, a gastroenterologist at Summit Medical Group explains, “There are numerous risk factors doctors have identified that affect your risk of developing colon cancer. The most important thing is to schedule a colonoscopy screening.”

Studies suggest that people who have colonoscopies done regularly reduce their risk of colorectal cancer by 76 to 92 percent. If you are healthy and have no family history of colorectal cancer, screenings should begin at age 50. Those who have a close relative who was diagnosed with either colon or rectal cancer should begin testing earlier. 

A stool based test can also check for signs of abnormalities, including evidence of blood and/or cancer cells in the stool. Other forms of prevention include limiting alcohol intake; eating a diet rich in leafy vegetables, brown rice, and fresh fruit; and maintaining a normal weight. Excess weight, especially in the abdomen, is associated with an increased risk of colon cancer. The American Heart Association recommends 75 minutes of vigorous physical activity per week. Exercise does not require a trip to the gym — walking the dog, going for a jog, doing yard work, playing a game of tennis, and riding a bicycle will all help to combat the risks associated with a sedentary lifestyle. 

Some studies suggest that taking a daily multivitamin containing folic acid, or folate, can also lower colorectal risk. Vitamin D, which is naturally obtained through sun exposure, has been shown to support a healthy immune system, and increasing calcium intake may also help to combat the formation of cancer cells. 

Long-term smoking is strongly linked to many health risks and cancers, including colorectal cancer. In fact, strong evidence has been shown linking consumption of nicotine with the development of colon polyps. Summit Medical Group has numerous smoking cessation programs, including family medicine practitioners and experienced behavioral health and cognitive therapy professionals. 

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Luppescu, call (908) 595-0601 or visit