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Colorectal Cancer – it disproportionately affects Black People


Colorectal Cancer – Your genes matter

March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month, and Dr Kendra Outler wants to remind you that your genes matter in the fight against the disease. Mutations (changes) in our genes can make our cells grow out of control, causing cancer. Most mutations that lead to colorectal cancer occur in one cell and are passed on to any cell that originates from it.

There’s another type of mutation that’s present in all cells of your body, and you pass them on when you have children. These inherited mutations account for about 5% of colorectal cancers. Certain risk factors can also influence your likelihood of developing cancer, such as smoking, drinking alcohol, being overweight or obese, and eating a diet rich in red meat.

Colorectal Cancer in the Black community

African Americans are 20% more likely to get colorectal cancer. They are also 40% more likely to die from the disease than other groups. Various things explain these differences, such as genetic background and socioeconomic factors.

African Americans often experience greater cancer prevention, detection, treatment, and survival obstacles. These obstacles include a lack of access to health insurance and lack of access to a healthy diet and lifestyle.

Lower Your Risk

It’s fundamental to have an action plan to stop this disease from killing black people. Here’s what you can do:

  • If you are age 45 or older, or have a family history of colorectal cancer, talk to your doctor about having a colorectal cancer screening test.
  • Keep a healthy weight.
  • Practice regular physical activity.
  • Eat a balanced and healthy diet.
  • Don’t smoke and avoid drinking alcohol.

Check out the Uzima Health & Wellness website for Colorectal Cancer resources.

You can find more useful information by listening to part 1 and part 2 of the interview with Doctor Jacquelyn Seymour Turner, Professor of Surgery at Tulane University School of Medicine.  In the interview DrK spoke to Dr Turner about her specialty, colorectal disease, and in particular, its impact on the African-American community, healthcare access disparities, and how to increase awareness about colorectal disease.

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