IGS - Public Risk Factors

Are you at risk for colorectal cancer?

You may be at high risk for developing colorectal cancer if you have a personal or family history of polyps or colorectal cancer, or have been diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease. Talk with your doctor about potentially being screened earlier than age 45.

Here are ways to lower your risk according to the American Cancer Society:

  • Weight: Being overweight or obese increases the risk of colorectal cancer in both men and women, but the link seems to be stronger in men. Having more belly fat (that is, a larger waistline) has also been linked to colorectal cancer. Staying at a healthy weight and avoiding weight gain around the midsection may help lower your risk.
  • Physical activity: Increasing your level of activity lowers your risk of colorectal cancer and polyps. Regular moderate activity (doing things that make you breathe as hard as you would during a brisk walk) lowers the risk, but vigorous activity might have an even greater benefit. Increasing the intensity and amount of your physical activity may help reduce your risk. Exercise at least 20 minutes three to four days a week. Any physical activity such as walking, gardening, or climbing stairs helps reduce your risk of developing colorectal cancer
  • Diet: Overall, diets that are high in vegetables, including leafy green vegetables containing folate/folic acid, fruits, and whole grains (and low in red and processed meats) have been linked with lower colorectal cancer risk, although it’s not exactly clear which factors are important. Many studies have found a link between red meats (beef, pork, and lamb) or processed meats (such as hot dogs, sausage, and lunch meats) and increased colorectal cancer risk. In recent years, some large studies have suggested that fiber in the diet, especially from whole grains, may lower colorectal cancer risk. Research in this area is still under way. 
  • Long-term smoking is linked to an increased risk of colorectal cancer, as well as many other cancers and health problems. Quitting smoking may help lower you risk of colorectal cancer and many other types of cancer, too. If you smoke and would like help quitting, contact the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345.
  • Alcohol: Several studies have found a higher risk of colorectal cancer with increased alcohol intake, especially among men. Avoiding excess alcohol may help reduce your risk.
  • Schedule regular colorectal cancer screenings beginning at age 45 (talk to your doctor about screening before age 45 if have a personal or family history of polyps or colorectal cancer).
  • For more information go to: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/colon-rectal-cancer/causes-risks-prevention/prevention.html.