There are many different factors that can contribute to the development of colorectal cancers, and they can be separated into three main categories: genetic, lifestyle, and general. Below is a guide to understanding the various factors and which ones may pose a risk to your own personal health. Once you are able to identify the risk factors that may apply to you, plan your approach for prevention or treatment.
Genetic Risk Factors
Genetics play a significant role in personal health; certain genes leave some more predisposed to develop certain illnesses. Inherited traits cannot be avoided, but knowing your risk factors can allow you to take action to improve the chance of prevention. The main genetic risk factors include:
- Family History - Those who have family members that have been diagnosed with colorectal cancer may have a higher chance of developing
colorectal cancer as well. This increased risk is tied to genes that are passed on in the family. It is often recommended that you receive a colonoscopy
to screen for cancer long before the age that your family members were first diagnosed.
- Race & Ethnicity - Both African Americans and Ashkenazi Jews have a higher risk of developing colorectal cancer, so it is recommended
that those who are part of those ethnic groups receive a colonoscopy at an earlier age of 45, instead of the typically recommended 50.
- Inherited Syndromes - There are various syndromes that are passed down through genetics that can increase the risk of colorectal cancer, including: familial adenomatous polyposis, hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer, Lynch Syndrome, Peutz-Jeghers Syndrome, and Turcot Syndrome. If you have any of these syndromes, talk to your physician about being screened for signs of colorectal cancer.
Lifestyle Risk Factors
Your lifestyle has a dramatic effect on your personal health, with certain habits causing an increased chance of developing colorectal cancer. These risks are often avoidable, with a simple lifestyle adjustment bringing that risk down to a more average rate. The main lifestyle risk factors for colorectal cancer include:
- Diet - the food and drink that you consume is typically the body’s main source of necessary nutrition, but certain foods and cooking
processes may create chemicals that increase the risk of developing colorectal cancer. Those who have a diet that has a high amount of red and
processed meats, as well as those who cook meats at high temperatures (grilling, frying, etc.) have increased risk. The risk of developing cancer
can be decreased by eating healthier foods such as fruits, vegetables, and high-fiber grains.
- Smoking & Alcohol - Both active smokers and heavy alcohol drinkers face a great risk of colorectal cancer. Smoking specifically
is notorious for its cancer causing substances with lung cancer, but since those substances can also be swallowed, the chance of developing colorectal
cancer is also increased.
- Inactivity - Activity helps our body expend energy, maintain a healthy amount of muscle, manage levels of fat, and purge our system of toxins and other harmful substances. With a more inactive lifestyle, one may be more susceptible to developing illness, including colorectal cancer.
Generals Risks For Colorectal Cancer
Unconnected to genetics or lifestyle are the general risks for developing colorectal cancer. These factors are typically unavoidable, similar to the genetic factors. However, these risks can also be counteracted through prevention efforts such as regular screenings and receiving early treatment. The main general risk factors for developing colorectal cancer include:
- Age: After the age of 45, the chances of being diagnosed with colorectal cancer dramatically increases. It is estimated that about
95% of diagnosed colorectal cancer cases are diagnosed in patients that are over 45 years of age. It is recommended that once you hit this age,
you should begin to schedule regular cancer screenings with your doctor.
- Previous Cases Of Cancer Or Polyps - If a patient has already had colorectal cancer that has been treated or is still in the process
of being treated, it is more likely for cancer to begin developing in other areas. Having polyps that have been removed or were benign also means
that that patient has an increased risk, since polyps are an early sign of developing colon cancer.
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)- since IBD affects the digestive tract including the colon and rectum, it can increase the chance
of developing colorectal cancer. This risk increased the longer that the IBD persists or if it is a more serious case of IBD.
- Obesity: According to the National Cancer Institute, people who are overweight are 30% more likely to develop colorectal cancer. Obesity
also contributes to the development of other diseases such as diabetes, which also increases cancer risk significantly.
- Type II Diabetes - Those who suffer from type II diabetes are estimated to have a 20-50% increased risk of developing some form of colorectal cancer. Unfortunately, diabetes can also affect the treatment process, which can alter the overall outlook for patients just starting treatment.
Contact Us With Any Questions!
If you would like to know more about the colorectal risk factors and what you can do to manage your own risk, contact us at Peninsula Radiation Oncology Center. We offer professional radiation treatment out of our local cancer center in Soldotna, AK to treat a wide range of cancer conditions, including colorectal cancer. We look forward to hearing from you and helping you get the information that you need.