It’s important to know your risk for colon cancer, and what you can do to lower it. Factors include age, your medical history and heredity.

“Anyone who has had a polyp or cancer is at risk for another one,” Burton explained. “And their parents, siblings and children are all at increased risk.”

The National Institutes of Health says eating fatty foods, smoking, drinking alcohol, obesity and inactivity all contribute to polyps, which contribute to colon cancer.

“They are finding out that a risk factor for colon cancer is diabetes,” Burton added. “So people with diabetes have to be very sure to get screened.”

Obesity is another risk factor, she said.

Colon cancer is considered a preventable disease.

“What we think decreases the risk…we tell people the exact same thing that heart doctors tell people: diets higher in fiber, lower in fat, especially saturated fat and red meat …and exercise,” Burton said. “If you are being good to your heart, you are being good to your colon, as far as colon polyps and colon cancer.”

And, she concedes, it’s really hard to get people to make those changes.

But it is a necessary one.

(For more information, visit

(Special to the NNPA from the St. Louis American)

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