Colon Cancer Risk Factors
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What Are the Risk Factors for Colon Cancer?
A colon cancer risk factor is anything that affects your chance of developing colon cancer. Although having a risk factor can increase your chances of developing the disease, it does not guarantee that you will get it. Many people who get colon cancer do not have any known risk factors. And, even if they do, it is often difficult to know how much the risk factor contributed to the development of the cancer.
The link between the lifestyle choices listed below and colon cancer is significant. However, by making certain choices, some colon cancer risk factors can be minimized.
The lifestyle factors that are likely to affect your colon cancer risks include the following:
- Dietary Habits: Our dietary habits play a significant role in our overall health and well-being. Diets high in fat and low in fiber are believed to be risk factors for colon cancer. Diets rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains are recommended and may decrease chances for developing the disease.
- Physical Activity: Sedentary lifestyles are linked to the development of colon cancer. Regular physical activity is an important part of a balanced healthy lifestyle and may reduce your colon cancer risks.
- Obesity: Obesity is a condition that may have many adverse effects on your overall health and well-being. It is also considered a risk factor for colon cancer. By effectively managing your weight, you may be able to reduce your chances of developing the disease.
- Smoking: There is evidence linking cigarette smoking to many types of cancer, including colon cancer. Smokers have been found to be at greater risk of developing colon cancer than non-smokers.
- Alcohol: Heavy drinking may negatively impact your overall health in several ways. It is also a colon cancer risk factor that can be controlled - either on your own or with the help of a medical professional.
NOTE: Anything that increases your risk of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Having a risk factor does not mean that you will get cancer. Not having risk factors does not mean that you won't get cancer. If you think you may be at risk, you should discuss it with your doctor.
Any particular lifestyle factor, or combination of factors, may affect your risk. Fortunately, these lifestyle factors are manageable and you can reduce your risk of colon cancer through a regular exercise program and improving your dietary habits. A doctor or nutritionist can help you develop a plan that's right for you.
Other Risk Factors of Colon Cancer
Sometimes there are factors that are beyond our control. Age, race and family history may affect your risk of developing colon cancer. While colon cancer can develop in younger adults, more than 90 percent of people diagnosed with colon cancer are over the age of 50.
In addition to age, race is also a risk factor for colon cancer. For unknown reasons, there are higher rates of colon cancer found in African Americans than other races. In some cases, there is a link in families with a history of colon cancer. Talk to your doctor if you believe any of these factors may affect your colon cancer risks.
Managing Risk Factors for Colon Cancer
Having one or more colon cancer risk factors only means that your probability of developing colon cancer may be higher than average. Following the guidelines for regular screenings can increase the chance for early detection of colon polyps. To help manage your risks, talk to your doctor about when to begin screening for polyps and how to make healthier life choices.
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