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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.

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