Colorectal Cancer: What Increases Your Risk?

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Jul 04, 2014
Quick Bites

  • It occurs when abnormal cells grow in the lining of the rectum.
  • Polyps, non-cancerous growths in the rectum, up the risk.
  • History of ovarian, uterine or breast cancer increases the risk.
  • Those with diabetes are more likely to develop colon cancer.

Colorectal cancer, also referred to as colon cancer, rectal cancer and bowel cancer, occurs when abnormal cells grow in the lining of the large intestine (colon) or rectum. The cancer of the colon usually starts as polyps or benign growths on the interior surface of the colon. Most polyps are benign, but there is the potential in some to turn cancerous.


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The following are some factors that increase a person's risk of developing colorectal cancer.


Age and Gender

Risk of developing colon cancer increases with age. The disease is most common in seniors. However, colorectal cancer can develop at any age. The risk of colon cancer is relatively more in women than men, while men are more likely to develop rectal cancer.



Polyps, non-cancerous growths in the rectum, elevate the risk of developing colorectal cancer. Adenomas are non-cancerous polyps that are considered precursors to colon and rectal cancer.


Medical History

Women with a history of ovarian, uterine or breast cancer carry a higher risk of developing colorectal cancer. Moreover, those who have had colorectal cancer in the past may develop the disease again. Those with chronic inflammatory conditions of the colon, such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease, are more likely to develop colorectal cancer.


Family history

A family history of colorectal cancer, familial adenomatous polyposis and non-polyposis colon cancer increase the risk of colon cancer development.



There is a scientific evidence to suggest that a diet high in fat, cholesterol and low in fibre puts one at greater risk of colorectal cancer.


Lifestyle choices

Risky health habits and behaviours such as drinking alcohol, smoking, not exercising enough and inability to maintain weight has some role to play in the development of colorectal cancer.


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Those with diabetes are 30 to 40 per cent more likely to develop colon cancer than those who don’t have diabetes.


The exact cause of colorectal cancer is unknown. The above mentioned are only some risks that do not guarantee development of colorectal cancer. However, you must talk about your risk factors with your doctor. They may be able to suggest ways to reduce your chances of developing this cancer type.

The risk of colorectal cancer depends on genetics and lifestyle. You can’t do a thing about genetic factors such as age, family history of colorectal cancer and history of ovarian or breast cancer. The risks of colorectal cancer are within your control. Abstain from indulging in food high in red or processed meats, eating meats cooked at high temperatures, maintain healthy weight and give up smoking/drinking.


Colon cancer has become one of the most common types of cancer, and in most cases, it is a silent killer. However, there is a very high success rate for treating colon cancer if it's detected early.



Read more articles on Colorectal Cancer.



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