A risk factor means something that has a great effect on increasing your chances of having a disease, like cancer. There are different risk factors for every different type of cancer, and these factors can be divided into two categories: the ones that can be changed, and the ones that can’t be changed. Find out more about the risk factors of colorectal cancer and its prevention:
RISK FACTORS THAT CAN BE CHANGED
- Excessive alcohol intake – Heavy alcohol use has been linked to colorectal cancer.
- Excessive smoking – Smoking promotes the growth of cancer cells, including colorectal cancer.
- Certain diet types – Diet types that are high in processed meats (i.e. burgers, hotdogs, bacon, or bologna) and red meats (i.e. lamb, pork, liver, or beef) increase the risks of colorectal cancer. Additionally, meats cooked at a very high temperature, such as grilling, broiling, or frying, leads to the creation of chemicals that could increase your risk.
- Sedentary lifestyle – Those who lead a sedentary lifestyle have higher chances of developing the cancer.
- Being obese or overweight – You’re at a higher risk of developing colorectal cancer and dying from it if you’re obese or overweight, especially if you’re a man.
RISK FACTORS THAT CAN’T BE CHANGED
- Type 2 diabetes – Non-insulin dependent Type 2 diabetes patients usually have the same risk factors as colorectal cancer patients, such as being obese or overweight. Unfortunately, even after these factors are taken care of, Type 2 diabetes patients tend to have a prognosis that is less than favorable after diagnosis.
- Inherited syndrome – Those who inherited gene mutations or defects, including Lynch syndrome and familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP), could develop colorectal cancer.
- Family history of colorectal cancer – Those whose first-degree relatives (i.e. sibling, parent, child) are at greater risk.
- Have IBD – Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis puts you at higher risk.
- A history of colorectal polyps or cancer – If you’ve had colorectal polyps before, you’re more likely to develop colorectal cancer.
- Age – Older people are at a higher risk after the age of 50.
COLORECTAL CANCER PREVENTION
- Get tested – There are five ways to get tested. You may choose one of the following: virtual colonoscopy, flexible sigmoidoscopy, colonoscopy, fecal immunochemical test (FIT), or fecal occult blood test (FOBT).
- Consume multivitamin with folate – Consume multivitamin containing folate on a daily basis to lower your risk.
- Get enough vitamin D and calcium – Get a good dose of vitamin D and calcium naturally on a daily basis (either through food or sunlight). You can take supplements too.
- Limit red meat consumption- Eat less than three servings of red meat each week. Try to avoid processed meat if you can.
- Be on a healthy diet – Your diet should be high in whole grains, fruits and vegetables to lower the risk.
- Drink moderately – Limit intake to one drink a day for women, and two for men.
- Have active lifestyle – Get your body moving and exercise more.
- Stop smoking – Stop smoking altogether. Use a nicotine patch if you’re a hardcore smoker.
- Maintain healthy weight – Avoid being overweight or obese.
If you have a combination of these risk factors, please seek advice on colorectal cancer immediately. Consult with your doctor regarding the next possible step that you should do. For those who have risk factors that can be changed, you must take preventative measures as soon as possible.