Colon cancer develops due to tumorous growth in the large intestine or rectum. This type of cancer is common and has affected most people in the US and other parts of the world. If you may not have been aware, your large intestine and rectum comprise the lower components of your digestive tract. The colon or large intestine forms the part whereby your body removes water and salt from solid waste. These wastes then exit the body through the anus after passing through the rectum.
Whether you are worried about colon cancer because of your family history, age, or a myth you may have heard, this article will provide facts about colon cancer causes and how to prevent it.
Overview of Colon Cancer
While colon cancer can strike anyone at any age, it typically impacts older adults. This type of cancer usually develops inside the colon or rectum as tiny, noncancerous cell clusters known as polyps. After some time, polyps develop to be colon cancer. Not all types of polyps, however, are malignant; some, such as adenomas or adenomatous polyps, are the ones that progress over time to become colon cancer1.
Given that they may have minimal or no symptoms, you may not notice precancerous polyp growth. Sometimes persistent abdominal pain can be the only cancer symptom, or stage 1 colon cancer symptoms can present as bowel movement changes and rectal bleeding. Therefore, medical professionals advise routine colonoscopy and colon cancer screening procedures to help prevent colon cancer by locating and eliminating polyps before they develop into cancer.
What Causes Colon Cancer?
The source of colon cancer is not yet established, and researchers believe that this sort of cancer can be related to a gene mutation that can either be acquired or inherited. However, there is no certainty that gene mutation results in colon cancer, though they do increase your risk of having the illness.
Some mutations can cause the growth of benign polyps, which are modest in size, but if untreated, they can turn malignant. Therefore, eliminating the abnormal cells surgically can aid in preventing colon cancer.
Risk Factors for Colon Cancer
Although the exact cause of colon cancer is unknown, numerous risk factors raise your likelihood of getting the disease. Some of the risk factors involved are:2
As mentioned earlier, precancerous polyps that develop in the large intestine can cause colon cancer. Polyp types like adenomas can become cancerous if a surgeon does not eliminate them during the initial stages of treatment. While some, such as hyperplastic polyps, seldom progress to colon cancer since they are often benign.
Colon cancer significantly affects older people, with about 90% of those receiving a positive diagnosis for this type of cancer being over 50 years of age.3 But health experts are unsure why colon cancer rates in those under 50 have been rising recently.
Certain lifestyle choices can lead to an increased risk of developing colon cancer.4 For instance, you are more likely to acquire colon cancer if you stop being physically active for an extended period. Regular exercise may lower your risk factor of developing colon cancer.
Compared to persons who are regarded to be of normal weight, those who are obese have a higher risk of developing colon cancer and a higher possibility of dying from it. You can contract this type of cancer if you heavily use tobacco or alcohol. Colon cancer risk is higher in people who have diabetes or insulin resistance.
Personal and Family Background
Family history can be one of the risk factors for colon cancer. Thus, there are high chances that you can develop colon cancer if you have a blood relative diagnosed with the same illness. Your risk factor is even greater if more than one family member has colon or rectal cancer. At the same time, it can be a reoccurrence of a previous illness. People previously diagnosed with colon cancer or noncancerous colon polyp have a greater risk of colon cancer.
Colon cancer might be due to genetic mutation or alteration in DNA. Instead of being passed down from a family member, most genetic mutations happen to an individual during their lifetime.5 According to estimates, between 5 and 10 percent of colon cancers are caused by inherited factors that promote the development of polyps and, in some cases, colon cancer in family members.6 Other hereditary conditions can also cause colon cancer:
- Attenuated familial adenomatous polyposis
- Juvenile polyposis syndrome
- Gardner syndrome
- Lynch syndrome, or hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer
- Peutz–Jeghers syndrome
- Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP)
- Muir–Torre syndrome
- Turcot syndrome
- MUTYH-associated polyposis
You should note that having these genetic conditions does not necessitate colon cancer growth.
Colon and rectal cancer can be brought on by the typical Western diet, which includes low fiber, high fat, and calorie intake. However, there are contrasting views on this matter, as some researchers have linked a diet strong in red and processed meat to a higher risk of colon cancer. Diets low in fiber may be a factor. Also, if you overeat red meat, processed meat, and saturated fats, you could get this type of cancer.7
Your risk of colon cancer is increased if you have radiation therapy administered to your abdomen to treat prior malignancies.
Various Ways You Can Prevent Colon Cancer
Colon cancer can be prevented. Around 70% of all cases could be avoided by things you can do. Here are some of the measures to take to ensure you are safe from the disease:
- Maintain a healthy diet: Consume a lot of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains because they have been linked to a lower risk of colon cancer and other cancers. Additionally, you should limit a diet rich in red meat like steak, pork, and hamburger because they lead to an increased risk of cancer. Your colorectal cancer risk is even higher if you are fond of taking processed meats like bologna, bacon, and sausage.
- Having a regular screening for colorectal cancer: This will aid in the early detection of cancer before any symptoms or signs appear and increase the chances of successful treatment. Individuals aged 45 and above should start a routine colonoscopy and colorectal cancer screening because that’s where an average cancer risk begins. Risky growths like polyps in the colon or rectum can also be found and removed using colorectal screening tests. If you get rid of them early enough, you lower the risks. Hence, try talking to your provider to determine when you should start colon cancer screening and which tests may be best for you.
- Have maximum control of your weight: As you’ve noted, being overweight or obese is one of the risk factors for developing colon or rectal cancer and dying from it. You can manage your weight by eating more healthily and getting more exercise.
- Consider a routine exercise: Your risk of getting colorectal cancer may be higher if you are not physically active. Increased activity may lower your risk.
- Avoid alcoholic drinks: While older persons who drink in moderation may have healthier hearts, even small amounts of alcohol can increase the risk of breast and colon cancer. Aside from these hazards, abstaining from alcohol is the healthiest option overall. But if you found it hard to abstain from alcohol, the advised maximum is 2 drinks for men and 1 for women daily. Note that 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or one and a half ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits make up one serving.
- Avoid tobacco smoking: As it rarely needs to be stated, this is one best things you can do for your health. Colon cancer is one of the 15 cancers that smoking causes. Besides, it raises the risk of emphysema, heart disease, and other severe illnesses. If you smoke, quitting offers significant advantages that appear soon after your final cigarette.
- Ensure adequate calcium and vitamin D: Having sufficient vitamin D and calcium in your body can help prevent colon cancer. Try to consume between 1000 and 1200 mg of calcium and roughly 1000 IU of vitamin D daily. You can find calcium in meals like nuts, low-fat dairy, legumes, leafy greens, and fortified plant-based milk. While fortified dairy products, fatty seafood like tuna and eggs are excellent sources of vitamin D., A typical multivitamin can fill in some deficiencies but shouldn’t replace real food or a balanced diet.
As discussed, habits linked to physical activity, diet, and weight significantly impact your risk of developing colorectal cancer. While there is no surefire approach to preventing colon cancer, adhering to these measures can be your only way to being free from cancer. They are also essential in reducing the chance of numerous cancers and other grave illnesses, including diabetes and heart disease.
The Bottom Line
Although what causes colon cancer is still unclear, colorectal cancer risk factors can raise your likelihood of getting the disease, including frequent alcohol consumption, obesity, and many more.
At Immunity Therapy Center, we have colon cancer natural treatment programs intended to activate your immune system to identify and eliminate cancer cells, along with natural, non-invasive, efficient cancer therapies that will exploit the weaknesses of cancer cells. We take great pride in exceeding patient expectations and ensuring that our patients get the best care and an exceptional experience. Contact or call us for more information about our cancer treatment programs.
Written By: Dr. David Alvarez
Dr. David Alvarez is a Board Certified Medical Doctor from Universidad Xochicalco and Certified by the American Heart Association (Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support).
Dr. Alvarez has been collaborating with Dr. Bautista as an Assistant Medical Director at the Immunity Therapy Center for over 6 years. He provides daily on site patient care and participates on the medical board on research and development of patient treatment plans and programs. Dr. Alvarez is a knowledgeable and compassionate Doctor committed to helping patients get to where they want to be health wise through a more holistic and comprehensive approach.
- American Cancer Society. “Understanding Your Pathology Report: Colon Polyps (Sessile or Traditional Serrated Adenomas).” https://www.cancer.org/treatment/understanding-your-diagnosis/tests/understanding-your-pathology-report/colon-pathology/colon-polyps-sessile-or-traditional-serrated-adenomas.html
- Medical News Today. “Everything you need to know about colon cancer.” https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/150496#risk-factors
- Colon Cancer Coalition. “Get the Facts About Colon Cancer.” https://coloncancercoalition.org/get-educated/what-you-need-to-know/colon-cancer-facts/
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention. “What Are the Risk Factors for Colorectal Cancer?” https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/colorectal/basic_info/risk_factors.htm
- American Cancer Society. “What Causes Colorectal Cancer?” https://www.cancer.org/cancer/colon-rectal-cancer/causes-risks-prevention/what-causes.html
- Colon Cancer Coalition. “Overview of Cancer and Genetics.” https://coloncancercoalition.org/get-educated/genetics/
- Thanikachalam, Kannan, and Gazala Khan. “Colorectal cancer and nutrition.” Nutrients 11.1 (2019): 164. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6357054/
At Immunity Therapy Center, our goal is to provide objective, updated, and research-based information on all health-related topics. This article is based on scientific research and/or other scientific articles. All information has been fact-checked and reviewed by Dr. Carlos Bautista, a Board Certified Medical Doctor at Immunity Therapy Center. All information published on the site must undergo an extensive review process to ensure accuracy. This article contains trusted sources with all references hyperlinked for the reader's visibility.