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Digestive Health and Wellness

Watching Your Gut Could Save Your Life


Anjee Davis

President, Fight Colorectal Cancer

Bloating. Constipation. Belly pain. Blood. Racing to the bathroom…

Most of us have had an experience with these symptoms. Some pay attention to them (they’re hard to miss when something doesn’t “sit right” after dinner), but many ignore them or assume it’s nothing, not realizing that paying attention to your gut could save your life.

Gut instincts

The human digestive system is a big deal. It has a big job of turning foods and liquids into nutrients for our body. When this process works efficiently, we have more energy and our cells have the support to grow and repair. The system includes the liver, pancreas, gallbladder and GI tract. The GI tract is approximately 30 feet long and made up of a series of hollow organs:  esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine (the colon and rectum) and anus. When we eat, food is propelled through the GI tract, coming in contact with the microbiome, nerves, hormones, digestive juices and more, which transform it into nutrients the body will use.

Gut health

Symptoms like bloating, pain, diarrhea and bleeding can easily be passed off as minor, but they’re signs something’s not right. They’re not only signs of inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease and food poisoning, but they’re also symptoms of colorectal cancer (cancer of the colon or rectum).

Is there a connection between our gut health and colorectal cancer?  “It’s become clear that the gut microbiome is in some way involved in colorectal cancer,” Kathleen Hall wrote for U.S. News. “In fact, scientists suspect that microbes are involved in about 20 percent of cancers, especially CRC. However, the link between the gut microbiome and colorectal cancer is complicated.”

But we know colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women (not including skin cancers). While it mostly affects those age 50 and older, there is a growing number of people under age 50 being diagnosed as well. This is just one more reason we all need to listen to our gut.

For most people with an average risk of colorectal cancer (no family history and no signs or symptoms), screening begins at age 50. However, no matter how old you are, talk to a doctor if you have digestive concerns or changes.

At Fight Colorectal Cancer, we’re committed to educating people about their gut. We raise awareness about the signs of colorectal cancer and educate people about the multiple screening options available. We also fund research. Most recently, we funded a project to learn more about the microbiome (gut bacteria) and its effects on colorectal cancer. We’re doing everything we can to educate and empower individuals about colon health because it could save your life.

Anjee Davis, President, Fight Colorectal Cancer, [email protected]

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