Colon is a part of the large intestine, which is responsible for reabsorption of fluids and processing the waste products for final elimination. The cancer that affects the colon or lower part of the digestive system is known as colon cancer. In majority of cases, colon cancer begins with the development of noncancerous polyps (clumps of cells.) A few of these polys become colon cancer with time.
The following factors may increase the risk of developing colon cancer:
- Inherited Gene Mutation
Although inherited genes amount to very small percentage of colon cancer cases, still it is one of the main risk factors. People who have Lynch Syndrome or suffer from Familial Adenomatous Polyposis should go for regular checkups, as they are more likely to develop this disease.
- Fat-rich and Fiber-deficient Diet
Observational studies suggest that colon cancer risk increases significantly in people when their dietary pattern changes from low-fat high-fiber to high-fat low-fiber. It is believed that your diet impacts the microbes that live in the colon, and hence may affect the risk of colon cancer.
Exactly how obesity increases the risk of developing colon cancer is unclear. However, a significant percentage of people with colon cancer have been observed to be obese. It is speculated that obesity in itself may not be the culprit. Instead, the factors that lead to obesity such as sedentary lifestyle, or the way obesity affects your bodily functions are the reason for increased risk.
- Alcohol and Tobacco Consumption
Excessive intake of alcohol and smoking are two of the most common risk factors. Over indulgence in alcohol can damage liver and lead to inflammation. Chronic inflammatory conditions are a leading cause of colon cancer.
Adopt a Healthy Lifestyle to Reduce Your Risk
Making a few small changes can go a long way in reducing your risk of developing colon cancer. Follow these tips:
- Eat lots of fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
- Engage in regular physical activity.
- Say no to alcohol and smoking.
Symptoms of colon cancer may not show for a long time. However, it is advised to go for regular screening tests to identify and remove polyps before they develop into colon cancer.