The precise cause of colorectal cancer is not known in the medical community, but certain risk factors have been identified through medical case studies. Approximately 200,000 men and women will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2007, which means that this is something we all have to worry about. If you are concerned about your risk for developing colorectal cancer, here are five of the main risk factors.
Age & Gender
It’s true that anyone can develop colorectal cancer, but men and women over the age of fifty are at a much higher risk than younger individuals. As you age, your risk factor increases proportionately, so it’s important to be tested for colorectal cancer more often as you get older. In addition, men are at a significantly higher risk of developing rectal cancer, while women are leading in the risk percentages for colon cancer.
Personal Medical History
As with most diseases, your personal medical history determines a large part of your risk factor for developing colorectal cancer. Women who have had cancer or cysts on their ovaries or uterus have been determined to have a higher risk factor. Also, anyone who has had diseases or disorders affected the colon are more at risk, including those who have had ulcerative colitis. The same goes for men and women who have had polyps (non-cancerous growths) on their colon or rectal walls will be at a higher risk.
One of the most telling aspects of your risk factor for colorectal cancer is your lifestyle. For one thing, people who smoke and drink large quantities of alcohol are at a greater risk. The same goes for people who are overweight or obese, partially because your general health declines with weight gain. Further, it has been reported that people who eat lots of fiber and who exercise on a regular basis can lower their risk factor for colorectal cancer.
Family Medical History
Even if you have never had any of the personal medical history factors, your family medical history will play a part in determining your risk factor for colorectal cancer. Although this disease is not inherited, you are at least 40% more likely to have it if any of your family members have, particularly your parents or siblings. The chances increase if several of your family members have had colorectal cancer.
The final risk factor for colorectal disease is diabetes, which increases your chances of developing this cancer by up to 50%. If you do have diabetes, be sure to maintain your blood sugar levels accurately and eat a balanced diet. You should also be examined on a more frequent basis to ensure that colorectal cancer doesn’t go undetected.
As mentioned above, there are no guarantees about colorectal cancer. There isn’t any known concrete cause and you can develop it no matter your age, gender, medical history or diet.