Diabetes and cancer are two of the leading causes of death worldwide. According to statistics from the Global Burden of Disease, deaths related to diabetes increased by 90 percent and colon cancer deaths increased by 57 percent over the past two decades. Colon cancer risk also increased by 27 percent in patients with type 2 diabetes.
The Diabetes-Colon Cancer Connection
Why are diabetes and colon cancer rates increasing? Perhaps we should consider how our society has changed in the past 20 years. As people have become increasingly sedentary and the Western diet has become centered around red meat and processed foods, obesity rates in the United States have skyrocketed.
Recent studies reveal unhealthy eating, obesity and inactivity contribute to metabolic syndrome, an array of conditions that include:
- High blood sugar
- Excess body fat around the abdomen
- High cholesterol and triglyceride levels
When these conditions occur together, they increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Colon cancer shares many of these same risk factors like smoking, alcohol use, high-fat diet and sedentary lifestyle.
Research shows a link between diabetes and colon cancer. Patients who had colon cancer and diabetes were more likely to die than patients with colon cancer who did not have diabetes.
Prevent Two Diseases With One List
Colon cancer is mostly preventable, but it is still the third leading cause of cancer death among men and women in the United States. Because diabetes and colon cancer share the same risk factors, you can prevent both diseases by making the same healthy modifications:
1. Do not smoke.
2. Limit alcohol intake.
3. Exercise 60 minutes per day.
4. Eat a diet centered on lean proteins, fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
5. Avoid red meat, processed foods and fast food.
6. Maintain a healthy weight, as suggested by your doctor.
Get Screened for Colon Cancer
If you are 45 or older, you should begin preventative colon cancer screening and should have routine screenings every ten years unless your physician advises otherwise. If you are at increased risk for colon cancer, you may need to be screened earlier, so talk with your doctor.
November is National Diabetes Month, so make an appointment with your primary care physician for a wellness screening and diabetes checkup and then call a gastroenterologist for a colonoscopy. Annual check-ups and regular screenings can save your life, so call today.