Colorectal Cancer Risk Factors
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Video: Genetics & CancerDr. Ritwick Panicker explains that, although rare, cancer can be hereditary. He identifies some types of cancer that can be inherited, available genetic tests, and in which cases genetic testing for cancer may be helpful.
Genetics & Cancer
Dr. Ritwick Panicker explains that, although rare, cancer can be hereditary. He identifies some types of cancer that can be inherited, available genetic tests, and in which cases genetic testing for cancer may be helpful.
Colorectal cancer risk factors are anything that affects your chances of developing colorectal cancer. It’s important to know, though, that while having a risk factor or several risk factors for colorectal cancer can increase your chances of developing the disease, it is not a guarantee that you will be affected.
Colorectal cancer risk factors can be broken down into two categories: risk factors that you cannot change and lifestyle-related factors that you can manage.
What Are the Risk Factors for Colorectal Cancer?
Listed below are some of the risk factors that may increase your chances of developing colorectal cancer.
- Age - Although colorectal cancer can occur at any age, the chances of developing the disease dramatically increase after the age of 50.
- Personal History of Colorectal Cancer or Polyps - If you have had colorectal cancer before, you are more likely to develop cancer in other areas of the colon and rectum.
- History of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) - Having IBD, including ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, increases your chances for developing colorectal cancer.
- Family History of Colorectal Cancer - Although the reasons are not clear in all cases, inherited genes, shared environmental factors, or a combination of these factors can increase your colorectal cancer risks.
- Inherited Syndromes - The two most common inherited syndromes linked with colorectal cancers are familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) and hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC). Other syndromes that can increase the risk of developing colorectal cancer include Turcot Syndrome and Peutz-Jeghers Syndrome.
- Racial and Ethnic Background - African Americans have the highest incidence of this disease in the United States. Ashkenazi Jews also have a higher risk of developing colorectal cancer.
Lifestyle-Related Colorectal Cancer Risk Factors
- Diet - Diets that are high in red and processed meats (e.g., beef, lamb, hot dogs) can increase your colorectal cancer risks. Frying, grilling, broiling or other methods of cooking meats at very high temperatures create chemicals that may also contribute to an increased risk.
- Inactive Lifestyle - Individuals that live a sedentary lifestyle without physical activity have an increased chance of developing colorectal cancer.
- Obesity - Being overweight increases your risk of developing colorectal cancer.
- Smoking - Some of the cancer-causing substances associated with smoking are swallowed and can increase the risk of developing this disease.
- Alcohol Use - Heavy alcohol use can lead to an increased risk of colorectal cancer.
In most cases, the actual cause of colorectal cancer is not known. Even if there are some factors that are beyond your control, managing your lifestyle-related factors may help you reduce your risk for this disease.
An inherited condition or family history may increase your chances of developing the disease, so it is important to discuss these colorectal cancer risk factors with your family and your doctor. He or she can provide you with more information, and let you know if you are a candidate for screenings that can aide in the early detection of the disease.
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