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Risk Factors for Colorectal Cancer
- Hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer (HNPCC)—This is a fast-growing form of colorectal cancer. It accounts for about 5%-15% of all colorectal cancer cases. Typically, people with this form develop cancer in their 40s.
- Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP)—People with this type of colorectal cancer develop hundreds of polyps at a very young age, sometimes as early as their teens. Initially, polyps are benign but do become cancerous over time. This type of colorectal cancer is rare. It only occurs in 1% of all colon cancer cases. If you have these polyps, the likelihood that you will develop colon cancer is almost 100%. Many patients have most of their colon removed as a preventive measure.
- Diet—Diets high in fat, particularly fat from animal sources, and low in fiber have been associated with increased risk of colorectal cancer. Eating a diet that is high in fruits and vegetables may help lower the risk.
- Lack of exercise—Regular exercise has been shown to decrease the risk of developing colorectal cancer. Even moderate exercise of 30 minutes per day is beneficial.
- Obesity—Obesity increases the risk of colorectal cancer, particularly when weight is distributed in the waist, rather than on the hips and thighs.
- Smoking—Smokers are at increased risk of getting colorectal cancer and dying due to colorectal cancer than nonsmokers.
- Alcohol—Three or more alcoholic beverages a day increases risk of colorectal cancer. Drinking alcohol is also associated with a higher risk of forming large benign tumors called colorectal adenomas.
Colorectal cancer. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what. Updated May 3, 2013. Accessed May 14, 2013.
Colorectal cancer prevention. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/prevention/colorectal/Patient. Accessed May 14, 2013.
Familial adenomatous polyposis. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what. Updated June 25, 2012. Accessed May 14, 2013.
Hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what. Updated May 1, 2013. Accessed May 14, 2013.
National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov.
- Reviewer: Mohei Abouzied, MD; Brian Randall, MD
- Review Date: 05/2013
- Update Date: 05/14/2013