The best way to prevent colorectal cancer is to follow recommended screening guidelines. Screening has the potential to prevent colon cancer before it even develops. Screening aims to find colon and rectal polyps before they become cancer or when they are early cancers that are curable.  

Colorectal cancer risk factors

A colorectal cancer risk factor is an attribute, characteristic, or exposure that increases the likelihood of developing colorectal cancer. Some of these risk factors are things that can be modified through lifestyle while others are not things that you can change

Risk factors you cannot change

  • Age - The risk of developing colon cancer rises as you get older, especially after age 45
  • Heredity and family history
  • Past diagnosis of colorectal cancer
  • Having inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • Inherited syndromes such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP), Lynch syndrome, Turcot syndrome, Peutz-Jeghers syndrome and MUTYH-associated polyposis
  • Some racial and ethnic groups such as African Americans and Jews of Eastern European descent (Ashkenazi Jews) have a higher colorectal cancer risk - Video: Colorectal cancer risk in African Americans or Black individuals

Risk factors you can change

  • Physical inactivity
  • Obesity
  • Diet: a diet low in fiber and high in animal fats is linked to colorectal cancer
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Heavy alcohol

To minimize your risk of developing colorectal cancer, you should

  • Exercise regularly
  • Maintain a normal weight
  • Eat a healthy diet
    • Variety of vegetables and fruits
    • Whole grains instead of refined grain products.
    • Limited red and processed meats and animal fats
  • Not smoke
  • Not drink alcohol in excess
  • Follow recommended screening guidelines

Do you know when you are due for colorectal cancer screening?

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