Colon cancer is also known as colorectal carcinoma or colorectal cancer or CRC. Colorectal cancer or CRC is cancer that involves the large intestine and or rectum. It is a very common type of cancer it is estimate to be the third or fourth most common type of cancer. The mean age of onset of colon cancer is 70 years of age. So it's oftentimes going to be cancer that affects older individuals but new evidence shows us that colon cancer is affecting younger ones also.
What factors increase the risk of colon cancer?
There are some factors that increase the risk of coo cancer such as:
1. Increasing age:
Increasing age is a risk factor for getting colorectal cancer as well as many other types of cancers. The reason for this is that the longer an individual lives the more their cells have divided meaning that mutations from each cell division accumulate over time. So more or more mutations in the cell is accumulating as a patient gets older. It’s believed that this risk factor is going to be more likely in those who are 50 years and older.
2. Family History:
Another important risk factor for getting colorectal cancer is a family history. A family history of colorectal cancer indicates a genetic predisposition meaning that there may be certain genes that are problematic. Also, there may be some genetic condition that runs through and it increases the risk of getting cancer. Along with the family history, there are two important genetic conditions that increase the risk for colorectal cancer.
One of them is known as lynch syndrome which is a familial cancer syndrome. It is an autosomal dominant condition meaning that only need one affected allele of a gene has this condition. It’s due to a defect in the DNA mismatch repair proteins and it increases the risk of not only colorectal cancer but also endometrial and ovarian cancers and some other cancers as well. So, the age of onset is estimate to be 44 to 61.
The other important genetic condition that increases the risk for colorectal cancer essentially increasing it to a 100 chance of getting colorectal cancer is familial adenomatous polyposis. This is also an autosomal dominant condition meaning that someone would have at least one parent that has this condition and it is due to a mutation in the APC gene. So this has an earlier age of onset of colorectal cancer oftentimes at the age of 39.
These two conditions are estimate to affect five percent of all colorectal cancer cases.
3. Inflammatory bowel disease:
Another risk factor is a history of inflammatory bowel disease and this is due to a chronic inflammatory process in the large intestine. It affects two conditions. The first one is ulcerative colitis and the second is Crohn's disease. Ulcerative colitis is more important because patients with ulcerative colitis have an inflammation of their large intestine that causes bloody diarrhea and those patients are at very high risk for getting colorectal cancer oftentimes within five to ten years of diagnosis of ulcerative colitis due to that severe chronic inflammation of the large intestine. Crohn's disease has an increased risk as well but not as high as ulcerative colitis.
Smoking exposes the patient to many carcinogens and this increases the number and frequency of mutations leading to subsequent increases in colorectal cancer especially rectal cancer. It’s important to reduce or stop smoking for patients to reduce the risk of not only colorectal cancer but also many other types of cancers.
5. Use of alcohol:
Alcohol use even mild or moderate use increases the risk of a variety of cancers including colorectal cancer. Again it's important to reduce or stop drinking alcohol.
6. Chronic low fiber diet:
A chronic low-fiber diet may lead to the risk of colorectal cancer due to abnormal changes in the bowel lining and changes to colonic microbiota or colonic bacteria. It’s important to increase fiber consumption. So having higher fiber consumption reduces the risk of colorectal cancer.
7. High-processed meat:
High processed meat intake increases the risk of colorectal cancer. It is not entirely known but it may be due to the presence of N-nitroso compounds or NOCs. These are themselves known to be carcinogenic. This can include pepperoni, salami, hot dogs, and other processed meats.
8. Low vitamin D levels:
Studies show that patients newly diagnosed with colorectal cancer are significantly more likely to suffer from vitamin D insufficiency or deficiency compared to the general population. So vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency increases the risk of colorectal cancer.
9. Low fruit intake:
Some studies have shown that a low fruit intake is associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer. So for a healthy body increase fruit consumption.
10. Low vegetable intake:
A low vegetable diet for long periods of time is also associate with an increase risk of colorectal cancer and because of this, it may be important to increase vegetable consumption to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. it may be due to the fact that a patient may not get enough fiber in their diet.
11. Lack of exercise:
Lack of exercise especially vigorous exercise and a lifestyle with no regular physical activity also increases the risk of colorectal cancer. So it is important to exercise regularly to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer in the future.
12. High body mass index:
Overweight or obese especially central obesity or having a large abdomen is also a risk factor for getting colorectal cancer as well. It is due to the increase systemic inflammation and increased cellular proliferation. So due to the anabolic environment cells can divide more frequently and have a high body mass index. It is also associated with diabetes. For the prevention of diabetes and a healthy body manage body weight.