Published on March 14, 2022

'Processed meats are to colon cancer as smoking is to lung cancer'

In 2020, Nick Deeter, DO, started on a personal wellness journey after he was having difficulty keeping up with his 2-year old son. He made several lifestyle changes that helped him not only lose unwanted pounds, but begin new routines that will impact his long term health and well-being. Here Dr. Deeter shares some important information about cancer prevention.

Dr. Nick Deeter, Dr. Teresa Deeter and childrenNicholas Deeter, DO, Ridgeview Clinics, shares that, “Processed meats are to colon cancer what smoking is to lung cancer.” Processed meats are known carcinogens. In fact, they are classified in the same group of carcinogens (Group 1) as tobacco and alcohol by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). A diet high in red meats and processed meats—like bacon, hot dogs and deli meat—can raise your colorectal cancer risk significantly.

To lower your risk, Dr. Deeter recommends eating less or no processed meats, likewise for red meat. “If giving up red meat is not realistic for you, start with small changes like cutting it out of your meals one day a week, eating smaller, three to four-ounce, portion sizes, and choosing local, organic, grass-fed meat,” he added.

Fiber and physical activity are key to prevention

Knowing what to avoid is crucial for prevention, but there are other measures you can take to decrease your risk of developing colorectal cancers. “Simply by increasing your physical activity—target the 150 minutes a week recommended by the American Heart Association—and the amount of fiber you eat, you can considerably lower your risk of these cancers,” Dr. Deeter said.

Dietary fiber is a type of carbohydrate that the body can’t digest. It passes through the colon quickly, helping to reduce the amount of time that food spends in the colon. Fiber also helps cleanse the colon and dilute cancer-causing elements.

The best sources of fiber are whole grains, beans, nuts, fruits and vegetables. Having enough fiber in your diet is important not only for colorectal cancer prevention, but can also help lower your risk of developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes and breast cancer.

Start regular screenings at age 45

Early detection is crucial for discovering polyps and treating colorectal cancers. The American Cancer Society recommends that people at average risk—those without personal or family history, or additional high-risk factors—should start regular screenings at age 45.

Talk to your health care provider about your colorectal cancer risk factors, which tests are right for you and at what age you should begin your screenings. Next step? Schedule your colonoscopy at a Ridgeview location near you.