Sometimes known as bowel cancer or colorectal cancer, colon cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the colon. It usually begins with small noncancerous clumps of cells known as polyps - in some cases,these polyps can become colon cancers.

The American Cancer Society states that 1 in 23 men and 1 in 25 women will be diagnosed with colon cancer in their lifetime[1]. So, what are the risk factors of colon cancer? Let’s learn a bit more.



What Are The Risk Factors Of Colon Cancer?


How common is colon cancer?

Colon cancer is quite common. In fact, not taking into account skin cancers, colon cancer is the third most common cancer in both men and women in the United States[1].

Recent statistics from the American Cancer Society estimate that in 2020 there will be 104,610 new cases of colon cancer[2].


What are the risk factors of colon cancer?

It’s recommended that those who aren’t at a high risk of colon cancer should start regular screening from the age of 50[3].⁠ Those with a higher risk may need to start colorectal cancer screening earlier and be screened more often.⁠

Let’s take a closer look at some of the risk factors associated with colon cancer:

  • Older age

Though younger adults can get colon cancer, it’s more common amongst those aged 50 and over [4].

  • Family history

A third of people who develop colon cancer have a family history of it. This risk can increase if there’s a history of colon cancer in immediate family members as a parent, sibling or child [5].

  • Obesity

Though the link seems to be stronger in men, being overweight can increase the risk of colon cancer in both men and women [6].

  • Diabetes

A study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology found that people with type 2 diabetes have a 38% higher risk of developing colon cancer than those without diabetes [7].

  • Alcohol

There are links between colon cancer and heavy alcohol use [8]. Limiting alcohol use or cutting it out completely could bring with it many health benefits - for both you and your colon.

  • Smoking

It’s well-known that smoking can be a major cause of lung cancer but it can be the cause behind other cancers too. Those who smoke have been found more likely to develop colon cancer than non-smokers [9].


Can I reduce my risk of colon cancer?


Although some factors are out of your control, the good news is that there are some lifestyle changes you can make in an effort to reduce your risk of colon cancer, these include:

  • Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains
  • Drink alcohol in moderation, if at all
  • Don’t smoke
  • Exercise regularly
  • Maintain a healthy weight

You can screen for colon cancer with your doctor or from the comfort of your own home with LetsGetChecked’s at home colon screening test. This test will usually require a stool sample. If you’ve already noted blood in your stool - you should speak with your doctor.



Our home colon cancer screening test can help identify the presence of cancerous or precancerous growths in the bowel by detecting blood that’s invisible to the naked eye.


References

  1. American Cancer Society. Key statistics for colorectal cancer. Online: Cancer.org, 2020

  2. American Cancer Society. Key statistics for colorectal cancer. Online: Cancer.org, 2020

  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Colorectal Cancer Screening Tests. Online: Cdc.gov, 2020

  4. American Cancer Society. Colorectal cancer risk factors. Online: Cancer.org, 2018

  5. American Cancer Society. Colorectal cancer risk factors. Online: Cancer.org, 2018

  6. American Cancer Society. Colorectal cancer risk factors. Online: Cancer.org, 2018

  7. Diabetes.co.uk. Diabetes and colon cancer link established. Online: Diabetes.co.uk, 2011

  8. American Cancer Society. Colorectal cancer risk factors. Online: Cancer.org, 2018

  9. American Cancer Society. Colorectal cancer risk factors. Online: Cancer.org, 2018