I just heard the extremely sad news of Robin Gibb’s advanced colorectal cancer. I know this blog is usually pretty light-hearted and flippant, but this topic is one that I can get behind — especially as my two topics (food and exercise) can have positive or negative indicators for most types of cancer.
In my day job as a PR coordinator at a hospital, I frequently promote health screenings and health education. Just last week, a local oncologist talked about the importance of screenings in preventing cancer deaths. In case you didn’t know, colon, rectal and colorectal cancer are some of the most preventable cancers. Because of the length of time it takes to develop these cancers, 10-15 years in most cases, regular screenings can mean the difference between life and death in many people. According to the American Cancer Society, people at average risk for colon, rectal or colorectal cancer should begin screenings at age 50.
Beyond screenings, there are other actions we can take to reduce our risk of colon cancer.
- Diet: Eat more vegetables, fruits and whole grains
- Weight: Maintain a healthy weight
- Smoking: Don’t smoke!
- Alcohol: Consume moderate amounts of alcohol
- Physical Activity: Increase activity to reduce risks
Two studies published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology in 2006 found that exercise improved colorectal cancer outcomes, reducing risk of death by 45 to 61 percent when the patients had at least 18 metabolic equivalent task hours of exercise each week. This adds up to at least six hours of walking at a moderate pace each week — not an exorbitant effort, but a distinct benefit.
I may say I’m just running for dessert, but in reality, it is more than that. I’m running for health, for Robin Gibb; I’m running to stay alive.