Primary Risks Linked to Colon Cancer

Continuing with our theme during this month of Colorectal (colon) Cancer Awareness, let's make sure we are aware of some of the primary risk factors linked to colon cancer.

Like every cancer, colon cancer risks can be categorized as ones we can control (at least to an extent) and risks that we can not. We need to be aware of both categories as it will help modify our lifestyles OR be even more proactive with screening.

The American Cancer Society and other studies list the following life-style (ones we CAN CONTROL) risks related to colon cancer.

a) Being overweight or obese - did you know that the link is stronger in men for this factor? b) Physical inactivity - we hear this all the time but do the least about it. If you're not physically active, you have a greater chance of developing colon cancer. c) Certain types of diets - high in red meats (such as beef, pork, lamb, or liver) and processed meats (like hot dogs and some luncheon meats) raises the risk according to the studies. d) Smoking - we usually related smoking to lung cancer but studies show increased risk of colon cancer when exposed to tobacco for a long period. e) Heavy alcohol use.

Then there some colon cancer risk factors that we really can not change. Here are the top ones:

a) Being older - the risk of colon cancer increases with our age. The risk goes much higher after age 50 (think screening!). b) History of colorectal polyps or colon cancer - we mentioned the polyps in a previous post. If you have had a a history of these, especially large in size, you are at an increased risk. Any previous incidence of colon cancer even if fully removed increases the risk of new cancer in other parts of colon (think screening!). c) History of inflammatory bowel disease - IBD including other related diseases such as Crohn’s disease results in higher risk (think screening!). Please don't confuse IBS with IBD; IBS (syndrome) is not considered a risk factor. d) Family history of colon cancer - history of cancer in 1st-degree relative (parent, sibling, or child) increases the risk (think screening!). e) Your racial and ethnic background - yes, African Americans have the highest colon cancer incidence and mortality rates of all racial groups in the US. Unfortunately, the reasons for this are not fully understood.

As always, would love to hear your or your loved ones experiences so we can benefit as a society. Also, if you want to follow, please LIKE our page so you can see future posts. Stay well and take care of yourself.


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