Excluding skin cancers, colorectal cancer is the third most common type of cancer diagnosed in the United States. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms described in this article, it is best to speak to your doctor. It could be nothing, but it’s worth the peace of mind with checking out.
The National Comprehensive Cancer Network recommends starting regular screening at age 50. Learn more about colorectal cancer screenings at UnityPoint Health – St Luke’s Hospital.
It is important to first understand the risk factors. Many lifestyle factors have been linked to colon cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, the links between diet, weight, exercise and colon cancer risk are among the strongest for any type of cancer.
There is evidence that colon cancer is hereditary. According to the American Cancer Society, 1 in 3 people who have colon cancer have other family members who have had it. If you have a family history of adenomatous polyps or colon cancer, talk with your doctor about the possible need to start screening before age 50.
The Genetics and Risk Assessment Clinic at Nassif Community Cancer Center provides individual counseling, risk assessment, genetic testing and monitoring for anyone identified as being at risk of developing cancer.
The risk of colon cancer increases with age. Younger adults can get it, but it’s more common after age 50.
Being overweight or obese
Obesity increases the risk of colon cancer in both men and women, but the association appears to be stronger in men.
People who do not exercise are more likely to develop colon cancer than those who exercise. People who do not exercise are more likely to develop colon cancer than those who exercise.
A diet rich in red and/or processed meat increases the risk of colorectal cancer. It’s not clear if other nutritional components, such as types of fat, affect colorectal cancer risk.
Smoking is a known cause of lung cancer, but it has also been linked to many other types of cancer, such as colon cancer. Find out about UnityPoint Health – Quit Smoking Services in St. Luke’s if you smoke and would like to learn more about quitting.
Heavy alcohol use
Colon cancer has been linked to moderate to heavy alcohol intake. Limiting consumption to no more than two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women can have many health benefits, including a reduced risk of many types of cancer.