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9 Colon Cancer Risk Factors You May Not Know About

Has it been a while since your last colon cancer screening? Are you hesitating about scheduling your first screening? If you have one or more of the risk factors for colon cancer, you may want to schedule a screening.

A risk factor is anything that affects the chances of getting a disease. Different diseases have different risk factors. Some risk factors, like lifestyle choices, can be changed. Others can’t. Having one or more risk factors doesn’t mean a person will get a certain disease. Some people have no risk factors and still get a disease.

There are many risk factors for colon cancer. Here are the risk factors for colon cancer that can be changed.

1. Being Overweight or Obese

People who are overweight or obese have a higher risk of developing and dying from colon cancer. This is especially true for those who have a larger waistline and men.

2. Physical Inactivity

People who are not physically active have a higher risk of developing colon cancer. People who increase their amount of activity can help lower their risk.

3. Red Meat-Heavy Diets

People who eat diets that are high in red meat or processed meats have a higher risk of developing colon cancer. People who eat meats cooked at a high temperature might also have a higher risk of developing colon cancer. Frying, broiling, or grilling meats creates chemicals that may raise cancer risk. It’s not known if other dietary components affect colon cancer risk.

4. Smoking

Long time smokers are more likely than non-smokers to develop and die from colon cancer. Smoking is linked to many more cancers than lung cancer. CTA about quitting?

5. Heavy Alcohol Use

People who drink heavily have an increased colon cancer risk. Limiting alcohol lowers the risk of colon cancer and many other kinds of cancer. Men should have no more than two drinks a day. Women should have one drink a day.

Some risk factors for colon cancer can’t be changed.

6. Age

The risk of colon cancer increases with age. Although younger people can get colon cancer, it’s more common after 50.

7. Racial and Ethnic Background

African American people have the highest colon cancer incidence and mortality rates of any racial group in the U.S. Jews of Eastern European descent (Ashkenazi Jews) have one of the highest colon cancer rates of any ethnic group worldwide.

8. Medical History

There are several risk factors in a person’s medical history that can increase the chances of colon cancer.
Colon polyps. Especially if the polyps are large, there are many, or any show dysplasia.
Previous colon cancer. Even if it’s been fully removed. Even if the person was young at time of diagnosis.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). People who have lived with IBD for years often develop dysplasia, which can lead to the development of cancerous cells.
Type 2 Diabetes. People with type 2 diabetes have an increased risk of colon cancer and tend to have a less favorable prognosis.
Having an Inherited Syndrome. About 5 percent of people who develop colon cancer have an inherited syndrome. The most common inherited syndromes are Lynch syndrome and familial adenomatous polyposis.

9. Family Medical History

Most people diagnosed with colon cancer don’t’ have a family history of colon cancer or adenomatous polyps. About a third of people diagnosed do.

If you have one or more of these risk factors, or it’s been a while since your last check, schedule a colon cancer screening today.


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