Colorectal cancer (more commonly known as colon cancer), is growing in number and frequency of cases, especially among seniors. As always, being aware of the risk factors not only allows you to a greater opportunity for prevention. Here are some of the risk factors:
· Increasing age
· Diet high in fat (from animal food sources)
· Physical inactivity
· Personal medical history (certain cancers)
· Intestinal polyps
· Inflammatory bowel disease
· Family medical history (certain cancers and genetic conditions)
Increasing Age. Colorectal cancer is more likely to occur as people get older. About 90%
of people with colorectal cancer are older than 50, although it can occur at any age.
High-Fat Diet. In some studies, the development of colorectal cancer has been associated
with a diet that is high in fat from animal sources, such as red meat. (Cancer preventive diets
should include more fruits and vegetables, according to the American Cancer Society.) Most adults do not get adequate consumption of fruits and vegetables, defined as five or more servings each day. National consumption of fruits and vegetables was similar (24 percent ate five or more servings a day). Most women reported daily consumption of fruits and vegetables at this level more
frequently than men (31 percent of women compared with 19 percent of men).
Physical Inactivity. Physical inactivity is associated with a higher risk of colorectal cancer.
Unfortunately, most adults are sedentary, reporting no
regular leisure-time physical activity (less than 20 minutes of activity per session and/or less
than three times per week) during the past month.
Obesity. Being overweight increases the risk of developing colorectal cancer, particularly if
the excess fat is in the waist area.
Smoking. According to the American Cancer Society, smokers are 30 percent to 40 percent
more likely than nonsmokers to die of colorectal cancer. Some carcinogenic substances from
smoking tobacco are swallowed and contribute to colorectal cancer.
Personal Medical History. Patients with a history of ovarian, uterine or breast cancer have
an increased risk for colorectal cancer. A history of colorectal cancer also increases the risk
of new colorectal cancers developing in other areas of the colon or rectum.
Intestinal Polyps. Polyps are benign growths on the inner wall of the colon and rectum and
are relatively common in people over 50. Many colorectal cancers develop from polyps, so
early detection and removal of polyps may prevent colorectal cancer.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease. People with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are at
increased risk of colorectal cancer. Two IBD conditions, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s
disease, are associated with colorectal cancer, and the magnitude of risk increases with early
age at diagnosis, longer duration of symptoms, and severity of inflammation and dysplasia
(microscopic evidence of cell abnormality).
Family Medical History. Family histories of colorectal cancer or polyps have been
associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer. First-degree relatives (parents,
siblings, children) of a person who developed colorectal cancer are more likely to also
develop this cancer. If the cancer is found at a young age or among several family members,
the risk is further increased. A small percent of colorectal cancers are related to familial
polyposis and other rare conditions, such as Gardner’s syndrome and hereditary nonpolyposis