Colorectal Cancer And Its Risks Factors

Colon cancer is one of the leading causes of death of many people around the world. Some of its symptoms may not appear until a later age. However, we can actually prevent this kind of disease if we know how to reduce our risk.

Here is the list of the risk factors of colon cancer that you need to know:

Risk Factors You Can Control

Consumption Of Red And Processed Meat

High consumption of red and processed meat – corned beef, sausage, bacon, ham, and other cured meats) – have been found to increase the risk of colorectal cancer. It’s all because of the nitrates, nitrites, heme iron, and other carcinogens found in the meat that have been seared, barbecued, fried, and cooked at high temperature, according to Cedrek McFadden, MD, colorectal surgeon and clinical assistant professor of surgery at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville.

Fiber Intake

Consuming fiber-rich foods have been found to have a protective effect against colorectal cancer.
Shilpa Ravella, MD, gastroenterologist and assistant professor of medicine at Columbia University Medical Center, says that:

“Soluble fiber, which is fermented by gut bacteria, leads to the production of short-chain fatty acids like butyrate, which have anti-cancer properties in the colon.”

Here are some of the foods that are rich in fiber:

FRUITS: bananas, mangoes, strawberries, raspberries oranges, apples

VEGETABLES: swiss chard, spinach, artichokes, carrots, beets, broccoli, collard greens, potatoes (russet, red, and sweet).

BEANS & LEGUMES: Navy, white, garbanzo, kidney, peas, or lentils are all healthy choices.

NUTS: almonds, pistachios, or pumpkin and sunflower seeds


Obesity, along with diabetes and heart disease, was found to be directly connected to an increased risk of colon cancer.

Heather Yeo, MD, colon and rectal surgeon at Weill Cornell Medicine, says that:

“Studies have shown that as countries have more Western diets, their rates of colon cancer increase.”

Here are some of the tips you can do to avoid being overweight:

  1. Eat more fruit, vegetables, nuts, and whole grains.
  2. Cut down your consumption of fatty and sugary foods.
  3. Exercise, even moderately, for at least 30 minutes a day.
  4. Use vegetable-based oils rather than animal-based fats.

Eating Of Garlic And Onions

A substance known as allium has been found to be able to defuse carcinogens and interrupt blood supply to tumors, thereby lowering the risk of colorectal cancer. Allium is present in onions, garlic, leeks, chives, shallots, and scallions. The greater the amount of allium-containing vegetables, the better the protection, according to senior author Dr. Zhi Li of the First Hospital of China Medical University.

Alcohol Intake

Too much alcohol intake increases your risk of colorectal cancer. Studies have found that alcohol is one of the reasons behind the younger onset of colorectal cancer that is usually found at the left side of the colon.


We all know that smoking can cause many illnesses and one of them is colorectal cancer. According to studies, the risk of colon cancer jumps 19 percent in women smokers and 8 percent in male smokers. Moreover, it was found that even you smoked only a few cigarettes a day, your risk of colon cancer still increases.

Level Of Physical Activity

Studies revealed that physically active people have a lower risk of developing colorectal cancer, breast cancer, stroke, diabetes, and heart attack.

Adults should at least have 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week, recommends by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Uncontrolled Risk Factors


As an individual gets older, the risk for colorectal cancer increases. This increase happens after the age of 40 and sharply rises after age 50.

Family History

Genetics is one of the reasons behind the 15% of patients with colon cancer. Due to this, individuals, under the age of 50, who was diagnosed with colon cancer should undergo a workup for the presence of these genetic mutations.

Anton Bilchik, MD, Ph.D., professor of surgery and chief of gastrointestinal research at John Wayne Cancer Institute at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California, explains that:

“These tests are simple to perform and easily available by performing a blood test. If the gene is present, then closer surveillance is needed for family members.”

A Family History Of Colorectal Polyps

Some patients with colorectal cancer have a family member with a history of colorectal cancer or colorectal polyps.

According to Samir R. Shah, MD, a colorectal surgeon at Lexington Medical Center in West Columbia, South Carolina:

“If you’ve ever had polyps, your risk of colorectal cancer is higher than an individual without any history of polyps.”

Transplant Status

The risk of developing colorectal cancer is higher in those patients who have received an organ transplant, such as the kidney. Dr. Ravella says that it is because of the risk that is associated with the use of drugs that overpowers the immunity.

A History Of Inflammatory Bowel Disease

A person suffering from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) – including ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, have the tendency of experiencing chronic inflammation in the intestines and colons which increases that person’s risk of colorectal cancer.