According to statistics, each year, over 41,000 people are diagnosed with colorectal cancer. Cancer of the colon can develop at any age, though it does tend to be more prevalent in older adults.
Beginning as a non-cancerous clump of cells known as polyps, over time some of these cells turn cancerous. Unfortunately, there tends to be very few symptoms in the early stages of the condition, which makes screening for the disease essential.
Although colon cancer can affect anyone, there are some risk factors to be aware of. Here, we look at the risk factors of colon cancer everyone should know.
What causes colon cancer?
In most colon cancer cases; the cause is unknown. What is known is that the cancer develops due to the mutation of healthy cells within the colon. When the DNA of the cell’s changes, they continue to reproduce even when they aren’t needed. This causes them to clump together, forming a tumour.
As the cancer cells multiply, they invade and eradicate healthy tissue, and spread to other areas of the body.
What are the risk factors of colon cancer?
While the exact cause might not be known, there are risk factors associated with colon cancer. They include:
- Inflammatory intestinal conditions
- African American race
- Inherited syndromes
- A personal or family history of colorectal cancer
- Unhealthy lifestyle choices
Colon cancer tends to develop in older adults, aged 50 or over. However, there has been a recent shift with rising cases in younger adults developing. Chronic inflammatory conditions such as Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis also increase the risk, alongside inherited syndromes such as Lynch Syndrome and Familial Adenomatous Polyposis (FAP).
If you are obese, your risk of developing colon cancer is increased, and there is a greater chance of dying from the disease, compared to those of a healthy weight. Smokers and those who drink excessive levels of alcohol are also at risk.
Understanding the risks is key to ensuring you are protecting yourself against colon cancer. While you can’t always prevent the cancer from developing, making certain lifestyle changes can help to minimise the risk.
Reducing your risk of colon cancer
If you want to reduce your risk of developing colon cancer, there are things you can do. Studies have revealed that a plant-based diet can greatly help to reduce the risk of colon cancer, though not all plant diets are made equal.
Healthy plant-based foods to include in your cancer-prevention diet include wholegrains, nuts, unsaturated oils, and legumes. These foods help to keep your digestive tract healthy and functioning as it should.
Maintaining a healthy weight, quitting smoking, and monitoring your alcohol consumption are other ways to reduce the risks.
Colon cancer is common, and it can’t always be prevented. However, by understanding the risks, it gives you the opportunity to make any necessary changes to protect against this deadly disease.