ORIGINALLY WRITTEN CYNTHIA MARTENS
While doctors do not know the exact cause of most colorectal cancers, certain known risk factors can increase a person’s chance of getting the disease, according to www.cancer.org.
The following are risk factors listed on the cancer Web site:
n Family history. If you have close relatives, such as parents or siblings who have had this cancer, your risk is increased.
Some people with colorectal cancer have a gene defect that causes the cancer. But colorectal cancer is more common in families that do not have a gene defect.
People with a family history of colorectal cancer should talk to their doctors about how often to have screening tests.
n Ethnic background. Jewish people of Eastern European descent may have a higher rate of colon cancer.
n Personal history of colorectal cancer. Even if a colorectal cancer has been completely removed, new cancers may start in other areas of the colon and rectum.
n Personal history of polyps. Some types of polyps increase the risk of colorectal cancer, especially if they are large or if there are many of them.
n Personal history of bowel disease. A disease called ulcerative colitis increases the risk of colon cancer.
n Age. Chances of having colorectal cancer go up after the age of 50.
n Diet. A diet mostly of foods that are high in fat, especially from animal sources, can increase the risk of colorectal cancer.
n Lack of exercise. People who are not active have a higher risk of colorectal cancer.
n Overweight. Being very overweight increases a person’s colorectal-cancer risk.
n Smoking. Most people know that smoking causes lung cancer, but recent studies show that smokers are 30 percent to 40 percent more likely than nonsmokers to die of colorectal cancer.
n Alcohol. Heavy use of alcohol has been linked to colorectal cancer. -Cynthia Martens