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Constipation: Could It Be Telling Us That We Are at Risk of Colon Cancer?

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Constipation refers to having less than three bowel movements per week, passing hard, dry stools, taking a long time to pass those stools or still feeling the need to visit the bathroom despite just completing a bowel movement.
  • In cases of regular constipation, bloody stools and a sudden, unexpected loss of weight or paleness together with exhaustion, immediately consult a doctor for treatment.
  • Anyone over the age of 45, as well as people with a family history of colon cancer, are categorized as being at higher colon cancer risk.

constipation in women

Constipation is not a serious condition on its own. However, if one neglects the condition, it could lead to prolonged and chronic constipation. This may result in other related health conditions such as colon ulcers or hemorrhoids. In some cases, constipation may even be signaling the onset of colon cancer.

Constipation refers to:

  • having less than three bowel movements per week
  • passing hard, dry stools
  • taking a long time to pass those stools
  • Or still feeling the need to go to the bathroom despite just completing a bowel movement

Causes of Constipation

Generally, constipation is a result of one or a number of the following issues: 

  • stress
  • a low-fiber diet
  • lack of hydration
  • lack of exercise
  • being too reliant on laxatives or enemas
  • and holding it in when requiring a bowel movement

Side effects of drugs such as contraceptive drugs, antacids and blood pressure medication may also cause constipation. Additionally, various underlying health disorders such as diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and strokes also have the potential to affect bowel movements.

When to consult a doctor

If you experience difficulties passing stools or suffer from regular bouts of constipation, consult a doctor. It is especially important to do so in the event that you see noticeable change in the stool. Such a change may come in the form of blood being passed in the stools or a transformation in the stools’ appearance, color and size.

Other potential symptoms of colon cancer: 

  • anal bleeding
  • feeling the need to visit the bathroom more often than usual
  •  a lump protruding from the abdomen
  • pain in the anorectal region that does not go away
  • a sudden loss of weight for no apparent reason or paleness
  • exhaustion
  • and severe stomach pain unassociated with passing stools or passing wind. 

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Preventing Constipation

To prevent constipation, exercise regularly, get sufficient rest, drink 8-10 glasses of water per day and abstain from alcohol and smoking. For those who already suffer from constipation, nutritionists advise consuming at least 30 grams of fiber each day. Furthermore, examine your stools regularly for any changes. For example, when the stools become softer and float in the basin, it is a sign of getting enough fiber. Contrarily, if the stools are hard and lumpy you may need to increase your intake of fruits and vegetables. Besides that, train yourself to pass stools on a daily basis. Do not hold it in when a bowel movement is imminent.

Foods that protect against constipation

  • Brown rice and grains are full of fiber, which nourishes the body and prevents bowel movement issues.
  • Fruits that are not overly sweet, especially ripe papayas, provide the body with fiber and hydration. To add to that, they are also full of vitamins and minerals that aid the digestive process.
  • Green leafed vegetables, such as leeks and spinach are high in fibers. Hence, they aid digestion along with providing nourishment for the body.

 Making changes to the way you eat and using a suitable technique when visiting the bathroom helps alleviate chronic constipation. Nevertheless, there are many more risk factors besides this condition which increase a person’s colon cancer risk.

The American Cancer Society recommends people should begin screening for colon cancer from the age of 45 years. Colon cancer can be prevented, diagnosed and treated. The technique from Japan offers a 60% detection rate, over 2x higher than the international standard. Click to read more

 


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