Want to reduce your risk for colorectal cancer? Get screened! And take this quiz. (Scroll to the bottom for answers.)
1. A complete colonoscopy examination usually takes
a) 30 to 60 minutes
b) 3 to 4 hours
c) a full day
2. Healthy people poop
a) once a day, every day
b) whenever they feel the need
c) three or four times a week
3. The number of people who die from colorectal cancer has been
a) going up
b) going down
c) consistent from year to year
4. Your risk of colon cancer death increases significantly if you’re
b) a woman
c) a man
5. “Occasional irregularity” can be caused by
b) your work schedule
6. A colonoscopy allows your M.D. to see inside your entire colon, which is about the length of
a) an Olympic-size swimming pool
b) a typical loveseat
c) your arm
7. If you suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), your risk for colorectal cancer
c) isn’t affected either way
8. People in good health should schedule their first colonoscopy when they’re old enough to
b) buy beer legally
c) join AARP
9. If you’re constipated, cut down your consumption of
a) fruit juice
10. To add colon cancer-fighting nutrients to your diet,
eat more fruits and vegetables that are
1. (a) Nobody enjoys a colonoscopy, but the examination is over relatively quickly, sometimes in as little as 30 minutes. You’ve spent more time than that waiting in line at the post office!
2. (b) As the kids’ book says, “Everyone Poops,” but they don’t all poop at the same rate. Healthy people may go once a day, more than once a day or only three or four times a week—what’s “normal” varies from person to person.
3. (b) The number of deaths from colorectal cancer (cancer of the colon or the rectum) has decreased over the past 20 years. That’s largely because more people are being screened, which allows doctors to detect, remove and treat potentially cancerous polyps at an early stage.
4. (a) Colon cancer affects men more than women, but only slightly. If you’re overweight, however—especially if you’re obese—your risk of death from colon cancer could increase by about 40 percent. A 2010 survey found that most Americans were unaware of a colon cancer death-obesity link. Now you know.
5. (c) Your colon has its own internal clock. Disrupting that natural rhythm, by working the night shift or rotating shifts, can cause constipation or cramping. The same holds true when you binge at meals. If you’re feeling constipated, high-fiber foods like whole grains, beans and berries and non-caffeinated fluids may help. (It’s important to add both; the fluids prevent bloating.) Then get out of your chair and take a walk; sedentary people are prone to constipation.
6. (b) Your colon, also known as your large intestine, is five- to six-feet long. It’s coiled inside your abdomen around your small intestine (which is nearly 20 feet long, if you’re measuring!).
7. (c) Between 10 and 20 percent of Americans—more women than men—have IBS, which causes abdominal pain, gas, diarrhea and constipation. IBS symptoms are uncomfortable, but they’re not indicators of a more serious disease. But if your IBS symptoms include unexplained weight loss or bleeding, see your doctor for a complete colon examination.
8. (c) If you’re in good health and you don’t have a family history of colon cancer or inflammatory bowel disease, you should have your first colonoscopy at age 50.
9. (b) The caffeine in coffee is a diuretic, which makes you urinate more frequently. It also draws water from your stool, making it harder to expel. To counter the effects of caffeine, drink two cups of caffeine-free fluid for every cup of caffeinated beverage you drink per day.
10. (c) The purple color of grapes, berries, red cabbage, cherries and plums comes from natural pigments called anthocyanins, some of which have been shown to inhibit colon cancer cell growth. Two great sources to add to your menu: black raspberries and purple sweet potatoes.