Q.: My parents both developed colon cancer in their senior years. I've just retired at 66 and want to concentrate on taking care of myself. What can I do to help?
A.: Exercise is a good start and, according to research, one way to minimize the risks of colon cancer.
Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and Harvard University found that people who exercised the most were 24 percent less likely to develop the disease than those who exercised the least.
They found that the protective effect of exercise held for all types of physical activity, whether that was recreational, such as jogging, biking or swimming, or job related, such as walking, lifting or digging.
"What's really compelling is that we see the association between exercise and lower colon cancer risk regardless of how physical activity was measured in the studies," said lead study author Dr. Kathleen Y. Wolin, a cancer prevention and control expert with the Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University.
Colorectal cancer is the third most common type of cancer.
Each year, more than 100,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with colon cancer and about 40,000 are diagnosed with rectal cancer.
The study suggested that if the American population became significantly more physically active, up to 24 percent or more than 24,000 fewer cases of colon cancer would occur each year.
Why not talk with your doctors about how you can minimize the risk of colon cancer in your life.
Now that you're retired, there are other ways to stay active as well. You could volunteer or even apply for a part-time job as a non-medical home care companion to other seniors.
Home Instead Senior Care is in the market for men and women to help seniors with tasks around the house such as meal preparation, light housekeeping, errands and shopping.
The company trains CAREGivers, many of whom are older adults themselves, to play an important role in the lives of other seniors.
For more information about Home Instead Senior Care, contact DeLauter at 866-522-6533 or log on to www.homeinstead.com.
DeLauter is the owner of the Home Instead Senior Care office in Lewisburg, which serves Union, Snyder, Northumberland, Lycoming, Clinton, Montour and Columbia counties.