5 Factors that May Elevate Your Colon Cancer Risk
Colon cancer is common and will present symptoms based on tumor location, the progression of the disease and its impact on other body organs surrounding it. Sometimes, the disease can show no signs in early stages. There are risk factors of colon cancer you can change, and those you cannot. The lifestyle choices you make can significantly impact your risk for the disease.
Here are some of the things which can increase your risk of developing colon cancer:
- Having Inflammatory Bowel Disease – People who have had Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis (except irritable bowel syndrome) for over eight years are prone to colon cancer risk. It is recommended that you take up follow-up screenings every two years to monitor and prevent developing the disease.
- Age – It has been discovered that 90% of people diagnosed with colon cancer are over 50 years old. Regular screening is recommended at this age or earlier if you have a history of the disease in your family. The American Cancer Society recommends screening to start at age 45.
- Race – Studies have verified that African-Americans are at higher risk for developing and dying from colon cancer. This could be due to genetic factors that affect their immune system. To be on the safer side, consult your doctor to find out about your risk level, and go for screenings regularly.
- Heavy Drinking and/or smoking – Smoking and drinking can expose your body to many chemicals that force body cells to keep repairing themselves. This can damage your DNA, making it weak against cancer. You can reverse this by limiting your alcohol drinking and smoking habits.
- Consuming High-Fat Diet and Red Meat More Often – When you load up on high-fat foods and red meat, you increase your risk of colon cancer. You should, therefore, consume 18 ounces of red meat per week as recommended by the American Institute for Cancer Research. Also, avoid processed meat since it’s pumped with preservatives. Eat more of chicken, fish, turkey, high fiber grains, vegetables, and fruits.
Some of these risk factors can be avoided by living a healthy and active lifestyle. Above all, get regular screening for colon cancer to ensure you are free of the disease can be treated early before it progresses.