Risks Associated with Colon Cancer
Colorectal cancer, more commonly called colon cancer, is cancer that begins in the colon (large intestine) or rectum (anus). Of the types of cancer that affect both men and women, colon cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States, taking the lives of more than 50,000 people each year. Yet many of these deaths could be prevented.
Colon cancer is more common the older we get. So, as we get older, we should be getting smarter about our health!
What are the risks of colon cancer? Certainly, age, in and of itself, is a defined risk factor. Other factors include:
— Medical assessment. Have you been diagnosed with cancer? Any individual history of colorectal cancer?
— History of polyps — many screening tests will help to identify growth of polyps, which are clumps of cells that grow on the colon wall which can turn cancerous. Cancer is most likely to begin on these polyp sites.
— Family history of the disease, and certain genetic factors. Did mother or father have such issues?
— Bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
The most important step for any of us, young adults or elderly parents, is to get the recommended screening tests.
There are also lifestyle changes that will lower risk:
— Don’t drink too much alcohol.
— Don’t smoke.
— Maintain a healthy weight.
— Get the recommended amount of exercise.
— Eat a healthy diet with lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and limited red and processed meats.