Colon or colorectal cancer is thought to be among the more preventable of cancers, with an estimated half of all cases of the cancer being preventable. It is important to know about the factors that influence colon cancer risk because those who are at higher risk should undergo regular screening; which is known to help in early detection and improved cancer prognoses.
One of the more common cancers, 150,000 colorectal cancers are detected in the United States each year and as many as 50,000 people die from it. Factors that increase colon cancer risk are:
1. Inflammatory Bowel Disease
This condition is an inflammatory intestinal condition and is to be differentiated from Irritable Bowel syndrome. Inflammatory Bowel disease is known to increase risk.
Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis are known to cause inflammation of the colon over extended periods, which can lead to dysplasia (abnormal cells) of the colon, which can progress to cancer over the long term.
2. Family history
Family history of not only colorectal cancer but also colorectal polyps as well as a personal history of these conditions are also known colon cancer risk factors. A condition known as Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) is responsible in a lot of cases. Hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer (HNPCC) or Lynch syndrome is another risk factor.
3. Other factors
Colon cancer risk is known to increase with age and this cancer is most often seen in individuals over the age of 50. Also racial backgrounds such as African American and Jews of Eastern European decent are known to be more prone to this disease.
The above are some of the risk factors that we have no control over. However colon cancer is known as one of the more preventable cancers since it is known to have several risk factors that are within our control. The controllable colon cancer risks are:
Since the colon is responsible for disposing of what we eat, our diet has bearing on development of colon cancer. Studies have shown that diets that are high in red meat, particularly cured meats such as deli meats and barbecued or charred meats can increase risk of colon cancer.
Similarly a low fiber and high fat diet is also thought to contribute to the risk, whereas diets that are high in fruit and vegetable are associated with a lower risk. Alcohol consumption is also a known risk factor.
5. Lifestyle factors
Being very overweight is known to contribute to colon cancer risk, like a number of other cancers. Similarly tobacco use is also a risk factor for colon cancer along with a number of others.
Having a sedentary lifestyle is also one of the risk factors of colon cancer which can be controlled by becoming more physically active and taking regular exercise.
Those with diabetes are also at greater risk and are also known to have poorer prognosis when diagnosed with this cancer.
6. Other risk factors
According to some experts, night shift work is a risk factor.
Those who are known to have higher colon cancer risk are advised to undergo screening from an earlier age.