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Pledge to Reduce Colorectal Cancer Risk

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Sponsor: The Breast Cancer Site

Don't wait until it's too late. Take action now to reduce your risk of developing colorectal cancer and encourage your loved ones to do the same!


Are you concerned about colorectal cancer? You should be, especially if you're under 50.

Colorectal cancer has become a significant concern for young people in the US, with an expectation that it will become the leading cause of cancer death for those aged 20-49 by 2030. In particular, the incidence of early-onset colorectal cancer (EOCRC) has been rising since the 1990s, with an annual increase of 2% to 4%. However, the increase has been more rapid in patients under 30, with a rise of 22% since 20041.

The reasons behind the rise in EOCRC cases can be complex, but there are also ways to decrease that risk. Various environmental and health factors affecting younger demographics may be contributing to the increase in EOCRC. These include poor diets, obesity, sedentary behavior, metabolic conditions such as diabetes and insulin resistance, antibiotic use, exposure to environmental toxins, and prior surgical procedures. In addition to these factors, evidence shows that failing to get enough nutrients, such as vitamin D, can also increase the risk of developing colorectal cancer2.

A diet high in sugary beverages3, red and processed meat4 has been associated with a higher risk of colorectal cancer. Obesity is also associated with an increased risk of developing EOCRC, as are metabolic conditions such as hypertension, hyperglycemia, hyperlipidemia, and type 2 diabetes5. Antibiotic use has been associated with changes in gut microbiome composition, which may play a role in the development of colorectal cancer6. Exposure to environmental toxins has also been associated with an increased risk of developing EOCRC7. C-sections and other surgical procedures may be contributing to the increase in EOCRC as well1.

One of the factors that have contributed to the rising risk of EOCRC is vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble nutrient that is essential for the absorption of calcium and maintaining bone health. Recent research shows that low levels of vitamin D are linked to an increased risk of developing colorectal cancer8.

Individuals with vitamin D deficiency have a 31% higher risk of developing colorectal cancer9. Women who had higher levels of vitamin D in their bloodstream had a significantly lower risk of developing colorectal cancer than men10. Moreover, studies have shown that individuals who live in areas with less sunlight exposure are at a higher risk of developing colorectal cancer due to a lack of vitamin D.

To help yourself and people you care about reduce their risk of EOCRC, you can pledge to maintain a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise and a well-balanced diet. You can schedule a screening and recommend your family and friends do the same. By taking this pledge, you're helping to reduce your risk of EOCRC and raise awareness about the importance of colorectal cancer prevention.

Join us today and pledge to help yourself and your loved ones stay healthy and cancer-free!

More on this issue:

  1. Marios Giannakis, Kimmie Ng, Science (16 Mar 2023), "A common cancer at an uncommon age."
  2. National Cancer Institute (5 November 2020), "Why Is Colorectal Cancer Rising Rapidly among Young Adults?"
  3. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (18 March 2019), "Higher consumption of sugary beverages linked with increased risk of mortality."
  4. Sharon Reynolds, National Cancer Institute (22 July 2021), "Pattern of DNA Damage Links Colorectal Cancer and Diet High in Red Meat."
  5. Po-Hong Liu, Kana Wu, Kimmie Ng, et al, JAMA Oncology (11 October 2018), "Association of Obesity With Risk of Early-Onset Colorectal Cancer Among Women."
  6. Theocharis Konstantinidis, Christina Tsigalou, Alexandros Karvelas, Elisavet Stavropoulou, Chrissoula Voidarou, Eugenia Bezirtzoglou, Biomedicines (16 November 2020), "Effects of Antibiotics upon the Gut Microbiome: A Review of the Literature."
  7. Lorne J Hofseth, James R Hebert, Anindya Chanda, Hexin Chen, Bryan L Love, Maria M Pena, E Angela Murphy, Mathew Sajish, Amit Sheth, Phillip J Buckhaults, Franklin G Berger, Nature Reviews Gastroenterology & Hepatology (21 February 2020), "Early-onset colorectal cancer: initial clues and current views."
  8. Marissa B. Savoie, Alan Paciorek, Li Zhang, Erin L. Van Blarigan, Nilli Sommovilla, Donald Abrams, Chloe E. Atreya, Emily Bergsland, Hueylan Chern, Robin K. Kelley, Andrew Ko, Angela Laffan, Ankit Sarin, Madhulika G. Varma, Alan Venook, Katherine Van Loon, Journal of Gastrointestinal Oncology (5 December 2019), "Vitamin D levels in patients with colorectal cancer before and after treatment initiation."
  9. Stacy Simon, American Cancer Society (14 June 2018), "Vitamin D Levels Linked to Lower Colorectal Cancer Risk."
  10. Hanseul Kim, Marla Lipsyc-Sharf, Xiaoyu Zong, Xiaoyan Wang, Jinhee Hur, Mingyang Song, Molin Wang, Stephanie A. Smith-Warner, Charles Fuchs, Shuji Ogino, Kana Wu, Andrew T. Chan, Yin Cao, Kimmie Ng, Edward L. Giovannucci, Gastroenterology (October 2021), "Total Vitamin D Intake and Risks of Early-Onset Colorectal Cancer and Precursors."
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The Pledge:

Taking action to reduce your risk of early-onset colorectal cancer is important, not just for your own health, but for the health of those around you. By making simple lifestyle changes, you can decrease your risk and support others who are dealing with the disease.

I pledge to:

  1. Get screened regularly: Regular screenings can help catch colorectal cancer in its early stages when it's easier to treat. I pledge to get screened for colorectal cancer starting at age 45, or earlier if recommended by a doctor, follow my doctor's recommendations for screenings and to encourage my loved ones to do the same.

  2. Adopt a healthy lifestyle: Eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and getting regular exercise can help reduce the risk of developing colorectal cancer. I pledge to make healthy choices and encourage my loved ones to do the same.

  3. Quit smoking and limit alcohol consumption: Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption have both been linked to an increased risk of colorectal cancer. I pledge to quit smoking and limit my alcohol consumption, and I will encourage my loved ones to do the same.

  4. Get enough vitamin D: Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to an increased risk of colorectal cancer. I pledge to get enough vitamin D through a combination of sunlight exposure, diet, and supplements. I will encourage my loved ones to do the same.

  5. Speak up about symptoms: Symptoms of colorectal cancer can include changes in bowel habits, blood in the stool, abdominal pain, and unexplained weight loss. I pledge to speak up and seek medical attention if I experience any of these symptoms. I will encourage my loved ones to do the same.

  6. Support those with early-onset colorectal cancer: If someone I know is dealing with early-onset colorectal cancer, I pledge to support them in any way I can. This might include helping them with daily tasks, providing emotional support, or simply being there to listen.

  7. Advocate for increased funding and research: Finally, I pledge to advocate for increased funding and research into early-onset colorectal cancer. By raising awareness and supporting organizations that are working to find a cure, we can help reduce the incidence of this disease and improve outcomes for those who are affected.

  8. Encourage loved ones to get screened: I pledge to encourage my friends and family members to get screened for colorectal cancer, especially if they are between the ages of 20 and 49. I will educate them about the importance of early detection and help them find a screening facility if needed.

  9. Support those affected by colorectal cancer: I pledge to support organizations that raise awareness about early-onset colorectal cancer and provide resources for individuals and families affected by the disease. I will donate money, volunteer my time, and participate in fundraising events to support these organizations.

  10. Share information online: I pledge to use social media to share information about colorectal cancer prevention, early detection, and treatment. I will help spread awareness by sharing articles, videos, and infographics related to colorectal cancer, and I will encourage my friends and followers to take action to reduce their risk of developing the disease.

It is important to make these actions a lifelong commitment to reduce the risk of early-onset colorectal cancer, support others, and help find a cure for this disease.

Together, we can make a difference in the fight against colorectal cancer. By taking these actions, we can help prevent the rising trend of early-onset colorectal cancer and ensure that those who are affected receive the support and care they need. Let’s take action today to make a brighter, healthier tomorrow for ourselves and our loved ones.

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