Colon cancer is the third most common type of cancer in the United States and is responsible for nearly 50,000 deaths per year. However, 60% of colon cancer deaths could be prevented with regular screenings and early detection. For this reason, it is important to know about the lifestyle risk factors for colon cancer that can be eliminated, and to be open with your doctor about them.
What Are Risk Factors For Colon Cancer?
Colon cancer risk factors include genetic and lifestyle factors that could increase your chances of getting the disease. Having a risk factor for colon cancer does not necessarily mean you will it. However, some risk factors, such as the lifestyle-related risk factor can be changed, and changing or stopping these behaviors will decrease your chances of getting colon cancer.
Knowing the lifestyle risk factors for colon cancer is the first step in the prevention of any disease, but especially a common one such as colon cancer. Let’s look at 5 risk factors that patients should be aware of.
If you feel you are at risk for colon cancer, then changing these aspects of your life may help decrease that risk.
Being Physically Inactive: If you are not physically active, then you have a greater chance of developing colon cancer as well as other diseases.
Being Overweight: Being overweight or obese, especially having a larger waistline, raises the risk of developing colon cancer in both men and women.
Poor Diet: Diets that are high in red meats and processed meats have also been shown to raise the risk of developing colon cancer. High fiber diets have been linked with a lower risk for colorectal cancer. High fiber diets include lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Smoking: Smoking raises your risk for many types of cancers, and colon cancer is among them. Quitting smoking is difficult, but it could save your life.
Heavy Alcohol Consumption: Development of colon cancer has been linked to heavy alcohol use as well. Limiting yourself to no more than two drinks per day can decrease your risk.
The only way to know for sure whether or not you have colon cancer is to get screened. Speak with a colorectal specialist if you believe you are at risk, and they can decide whether to screen you. Popular screening tests for colon cancer include colonoscopy, sigmoidoscopy, high sensitivity fecal occult blood test, and virtual colonoscopy.
Physicians recommend that patients at normal risk should be screened at the age of 50 and every ten years after that. However, if you are displaying symptoms, or if you are at increased risk due to personal history or lifestyle then your doctor may screen you for colon cancer earlier and more frequently. To speak with our colorectal specialist, contact us or book an appointment.