risk factors for colon cancer

Posted by Aranganathan Selvaraj on Mon, Mar 7, 2011  
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Risk factors for colon cancer

Age: Colorectal cancer  is more common in people over the age of 50 and the chance of developing colorectal cancer increases as age increases. More than 90% of people who develop colorectal cancer are older than 50 years.

Diet: The development of colorectal cancer appears to be associated with diet that contains high amount of fat and calories and subsequently low in fiber. High intake of meat may be associated with colorectal cancer. The exact role of dietary factors in causing colorectal cancer is not clear at this time.

Large intestinal polyps: Polyps are non-cancerous growths, which may develop on the inner wall of the colon and rectum. This may occur in many people especially after age 50. Polyps may be of different types, and some of these may be associated with increased risk for the development of colorectal cancer. In a rare, inherited condition called familial adenomatosis polyposis (FAP), hundreds or even thousands of polyps may develop in the large intestine, causing almost 100 percent risk of developing colorectal cancer in these individuals, if left untreated.

Medical conditions: Ulcerative colitis is a medical condition in which the inner lining of the colon becomes ulcerated in multiple places. The chances for developing colorectal cancer in patients with ulcerative colitis is high.. Colon cancer risk may also be slightly increased in patients with chronic disease another disease called Crohn's disease. This disease has some similarity to ulcerative colitis but is more often associated with scarring and obstruction of the intestine than ulceration.

Lack of exercise: People who lead sedentary life, without much of physical activity may have a higher risk of developing colorectal cancer.

Race and ethnic background: Risk of developing colorectal cancer is higher in Jews of Eastern European descent (Ashkenazi Jews). Recent findings suggest a genetic abnormality in this group of people that is increasing the risk of developing colorectal cancer.

Obesity: Obesity itself may be a risk factor for colorectal cancer, the chance of dying from colorectal cancer is higher in obese individuals.

Smoking: Smoking may increase the risk of developing colorectal cancer by as much as 40%. Smokers may swallow some of the cancer-causing chemicals and this may be an explanation for the increased risk of colorectal cancer in smokers. Some of these substances are also absorbed into the bloodstream thus causing increased risk of many cancers.

Alcohol consumption: Heavy alcohol consumption may be associated with increased risk of colorectal cancer. Depletion of body vitamins including folic acid may play a role in the development of colon cancer but the direct effect of alcohol on the colon may also be responsible for the increased risk.

Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP): This is a rare type of inherited disorder that may affect 1 in 8,000 people. In this genetic disorder, hundreds or even thousands of polyps may develop in the large intestine, causing almost 100 percent risk of developing colorectal cancer in these individuals if left untreated. The polyps are not present at birth but develop over time.

Gardner's syndrome: This is a subtype of FAP, in which a type of benign tumour called adenoma may affect the entire large and small bowel. This type of syndrome has been associated with some abnormalities which include desmoid tumours, lipomas and sebaceous cysts.

Hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer (HNPCC) syndrome: This is another form of genetic disorder with increased risk of developing colorectal cancer. In this genetic condition, there is an increased incidence of polyp development.


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