Skip to main content

Who's at Risk for Colon Cancer?

Who's at Risk for Colon Cancer?

Colon (or colorectal) cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States. In most cases, colon cancer is preventable and, if caught early, very treatable, so regular screenings are important. 

A person with an average risk factor for colon cancer benefits from regular screenings, like colonoscopies, starting at age 45. You then come in for colon cancer preventive screenings at regular intervals.

Certain populations benefit from starting screenings earlier or having them more frequently. At GastroDoxs in Cypress, Texas, our experienced gastroenterologist, Bharat Pothuri, MD, evaluates your risk of developing colon cancer and puts together a regular screening schedule that’s appropriate for you.

Factors that put you at a higher risk of developing polyps (precancerous growths on your colon) or colon cancer are varied. Here’s some of the major ones. 

Controllable risk factors for colorectal cancer

Your lifestyle has an impact on your risk of developing colon cancer. These factors are within your control. Adopting habits that can help you avoid colon cancer is an important part of your long-term health plan. 

Obesity and overweight

People who are severely overweight or diagnosed as obese have a higher risk of developing and dying from colon cancer. If you’re carrying a few too many pounds, losing weight can help reduce your risk of developing colon cancer and many other diseases, including Type 2 diabetes and heart disease. If you’re not sure where to start with weight loss, ask us for help.

Sedentary lifestyle

Regular physical activity is an important part of your overall well-being. It helps your mood, enhances sleep quality, keeps your weight in check, and reduces your risk of many diseases, including colon cancer. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity physical activity to promote good health. 

Dietary choices

If you consume a lot of red meat, like beef or lamb, and/or processed meats, like ham and hot dogs, you’re at a greater risk of developing colorectal cancer. Cut back on the amount of red meat you eat and opt for white-meat chicken or fish instead. 

Add more fruits and vegetables to your daily diet to raise your fiber intake, to help keep your colon working well, and get in extra cancer-preventing antioxidants. 

Not getting enough vitamin D

Many people are deficient in vitamin D, which your body synthesizes when exposed to the sun. Vitamin D is also found in some foods, like fortified dairy products. Ask Dr. Pothuri about your vitamin D levels and whether you’d benefit from a supplement. 

Smoking and alcohol consumption

Long-term tobacco smoking correlates with a higher risk of developing colon cancer. Smoking has a lot of negative impacts on your health in other ways, too, so why not use this time to work on quitting? We can help you find resources to support quitting. 

If you choose to indulge in alcohol, stick to two drinks a day for men or one drink per day for women. Moderate or heavy alcohol use is linked to incidences of colorectal cancer. 

Risk factors you cannot change

Certain risk factors are uncontrollable. For example, your risk of developing colon cancer increases after you reach age 50. Plus, people who have a personal history of colorectal cancer or abnormal polyps are also at greater risk of developing the disease. 

Other uncontrollable factors that make you more susceptible to colon cancer include:

If you live in the greater Houston area and have any of these controllable or uncontrollable risk factors for colon cancer, consult with Dr. Pothuri at GastroDoxs. He can help you gain control of your health with screenings and lifestyle changes. Call our office today or use the online tool to schedule an appointment.

You Might Also Enjoy...

All-Natural Ways to Reduce GERD

All-Natural Ways to Reduce GERD

If you have the heartburn, regurgitation, and general discomfort of GERD, making some lifestyle and dietary changes can significantly improve your symptoms and quality of life. We share natural ways to reduce GERD.

Lifestyle Adjustments to Manage Dysphagia

Incorporating lifestyle adjustments can significantly enhance the quality of life for people with dysphagia, which is difficulty swallowing. Learn more about how you or a loved one can make daily changes to improve symptoms of dysphagia.
I'm at Risk for Colon Cancer — What Should I Do?

I'm at Risk for Colon Cancer — What Should I Do?

Having an increased risk of developing colon cancer doesn’t mean the disease is inevitable. Learn how you can proactively reduce your risk of colon cancer and detect any potential problems early on, when it’s most treatable.

IBD-Friendly Snacks to Munch On

When you have inflammatory bowel disease, watching your diet helps you manage your condition during flare-ups and during remission. You may have mealtime down, but snacks pose a challenge. Here are some suggestions for IBD-friendly munchies.

When Is Abdominal Pain a Sign of Ulcerative Colitis?

Ulcerative colitis describes a condition in which inflammation overtakes your colon and rectum. When this happens, small ulcers can create abdominal pain, bleeding, and other unpleasant symptoms. How do you know you have ulcerative colitis? Read on.