Healthy Food Choices, Physical Activity, and Screening Reduce the Risk of Colorectal Cancer
Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States with an estimated 1,806,590 new cases and 606,520 deaths in 2020. Cancer is a public health concern due to the numbers of cases, financial costs, and morbidity and mortality rates. An estimated 42% of all diagnosed cancers and 45% of cancer deaths in the United States in 2014 could be attributed to modifiable risk factors. Colorectal cancer screening is effective because small polyps take years to grow and turn to cancers allowing for early detection and removal of precancerous polyps. Primary prevention of colorectal cancer by risk factor reduction is also effective as these factors cause over half of colorectal cancer cases and deaths. Physical activity, weight control, healthy dietary choices, and abstinence from alcohol and tobacco are protective. The gastroenterology nurse can assess physical activity and food choices as vital signs and recommend a gradual addition of physical activity and a more plant-based diet with reduced processed food. All nurses need to advocate for policy improvements per our pledge to the Code of Ethics for Nurses. Policy changes improve the health of large numbers of people and make healthy behaviors a normalized way of life.
Morrow, L., & Greenwald, B. (2022). Healthy food choices, physical activity, and screening reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. Gastroenterology Nursing, 45(2), 113-119.. Doi:10.1097/SGA.0000000000000615.