In addition to early screening, research shows that a healthy lifestyle can significantly the reduce risk of developing colorectal cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, several lifestyle-related factors have been linked to colorectal cancer, including diet, weight, exercise, alcohol consumption and tobacco use. “We know that diets that are heavy on meat products and less on vegetables create an increased independent risk for colorectal cancer. We also know that tobacco use is strongly associated with colorectal cancer. This message has to get out to the public,” emphasizes Dr. Divya Sharma, a physician who served for several years as the Medical Director for the Commonwealth Health Center. During her recent tenure in the CNMI, Dr. Sharma had been troubled by how many young people were being diagnosed with metastatic (late-stage) colorectal cancer – individuals with no known family history of the disease. “[But] without a formal public health study and without a registry, it is really hard to start looking into this,” she notes.