Like all cancers, there are several risk factors that increase your chances of developing colon cancer. Often, people with risk factors will never reach cancer at all — and those without any of the risk factors, still may.
At Immunity Therapy Center, we believe in empowering the world through knowledge, which is why we’ve created our colon cancer natural treatment plans for our patients. If you know your risk factors, you can discuss them with your health care professional and make wise lifestyle decisions moving forward.
One risk factor that’s often discussed when it comes to colon cancer is whether or not it’s hereditary. If someone in your family has had colon cancer, you might wonder —“Is colon cancer genetic?”
As it turns out, roughly 95% of colon cancers are labeled as sporadic. This means that the genetic changes develop after birth, with no risk of passing them on to your children. Colon cancers that are inherited make up for the other 5%. They happen when gene changes are passed down from one generation to the next.
To take a closer look at the question of whether or not colon cancer is hereditary, it requires an understanding of family history, genes and inherited conditions.
Family history does play a role in colon cancer. If your first-degree relatives — parents, brothers, sisters, children — or any other family members — grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, grandchildren, cousins — have had colon cancer, then it may run in your family (particularly if these family members were diagnosed before the age of 60). If there is a family history of colon cancer then the risk of developing it almost doubles, even more so if close relatives were diagnosed at a young age. When it comes to family history and cancer, don’t be afraid to be proactive and get the conversation started. Although these questions can often seem uncomfortable or invasive at first, knowing your family history is the first step to understanding your genes.
Inherited Genes & Rare Conditions
In addition to family history, an increased risk of colon cancer has also been linked to rare inherited conditions that are passed from generation to generation within a family. When these conditions are present, individuals are more likely to develop colon cancer — but being aware of the conditions and proactive means you can catch and monitor the symptoms before they progress.
These mutations 1 can be inherited from one or both parents. There are also environmental factors that might trigger mutations, like radiation, chemicals, oxidants, and viruses. Unlike acquired mutations, which we’ll discuss below, inherited mutations end up in each cell of the body. They often cause multiple polyps that are too large to be removed by colonoscopy. Because these polyps can develop into colon cancer, individuals with known inherited genes and rare conditions work closely with their health care providers in a colon cancer prevention plan to stop the polyps from forming into cancer. Below are the conditions that have been linked to an increased risk of colon cancer.
Familial Adenomatous Polyposis 2 (FAP)
FAP is a genetic condition where an individual develops more than 100 adenomatous colon polyps. These polyps are areas where normal cells that line a person’s colon form a mass on the inside intestinal tract. Often, these polyps will begin to develop in the mid-teens. If FAP is not treated, it’s more likely that a person will develop colon cancer.
Attenuated Familial Adenomatous Polyposis 3 (AFAP)
AFAP tends to be linked to a number of adenomatous colorectal polyps- in this case, between 20 to 100 polyps. Individuals who have AFAP often develop it later in life than those with classic FAP. As with classic FAP, if AFAP is not treated properly, there is an increased risk of colon cancer.
Gardner Syndrome 4
Gardner Syndrome is a form of FAP. People with this syndrome develop multiple adenomatous colon polyps, but they also develop tumors outside of the gastrointestinal organs. These tumors can include epidermoid cysts (lumps in or underneath the skin), fibromas (fibrous tumors), desmoid tumors (fibrous tumors that can develop anywhere throughout the body), and Osteomas (lumps in or on the bone).
Lynch Syndrome 5
Lynch Syndrome is also called hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (or HNPCC). It’s one of the most common hereditary cancer syndromes, with about 1 in every 300 people possibly carrying the alteration of the gene that is associated with it. For individuals who have Lynch Syndrome, there is a significantly larger chance of developing colon cancer. A primary clue as to whether or not there is Lynch syndrome in the family is if there are multiple cases of colon and/or endometrial cancer on the same side of the family.
Juvenile Polyposis Syndrome 6
Also known as JPS, this syndrome is defined by noncancerous masses of normal tissues building up in the intestines (or elsewhere). If these masses develop inside a body structure, like the intestines, they are also called polyps. The syndrome is referred to as “juvenile” due to the type of polyp, not the age of those who it affects.
Muir-Torre Syndrome 7
A variation of Lynch Syndrome, this refers to individuals who develop uncommon skin lesions or tumors. These tumors can include sebaceous adenomas, sebaceous epitheliomas, sebaceous carcinomas, and keratoacanthomas. These tumors are often seen in people with Lynch Syndrome, so those who have lesions, are typically recommended to receive a genetic evaluation.
MYH-Associated Polyposis 8
Otherwise known as MAP, with this hereditary condition, people often develop multiple adenomatous colon polyps during their lifetime. If these polyps aren’t monitored properly, there’s an increased risk of colon cancer.
Peutz-Jeghers Syndrome 9
With PJS, individuals have an increased risk for developing hamartomatous polyps in the digestive tract. They also have a greater risk for cancers of the breast, colon and rectum, pancreas, stomach, testicles, ovaries, lung, cervix, and more. People with PJS must be monitored closely, as the lifetime risk of cancer can be as high as 93%.
Turcot Syndrome 10
Turcot Syndrome is a variant of FAP and Lynch Syndrome. Individuals with this syndrome have a number of adenomatous colon polyps, a greater risk of colon cancer, and a higher risk of brain tumors.
Along with inherited genes, there is another term called acquired genes 11 . Most of the gene mutations that lead to cancer, including colon cancer, are referred to as this. Acquired genes mean they are mutations that happen during a person’s lifetime and are not passed on to their children.
In colon cancer, these genes result in abnormal cells of growth within the colon. Unlike inherited genes, acquired genes 12 are only present in the original cell, and in the cells that descend from that cell. For the most part, these acquired mutations tend to cause one or a few polyps. These polyps can be removed by colonoscopy to prevent the polyps’ progression to cancer.
There are several increased risk factors for developing colon cancer, like diabetes and dietary choices (like increased consumption of red meat and meat cooked at high temperatures). Diets that are low in fiber but high in fats may also be associated with a higher risk of colorectal cancer. Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption are risk factors, too, as is obesity and lack of exercise.
Inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis can also put you at risk for this cancer, which increases the longer that you have experienced an IBD.
Crohn’s Disease 13
Crohn’s disease is caused by an inflammation of the digestive system and can spread deep into the digestive tract and lead to abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss, and malnutrition.
Ulcerative Colitis 14
Ulcerative Colitis causes lasting inflammation and ulcers or sores in the digestive tract. It can affect the inner lining of the colon and rectum and includes symptoms like diarrhea, abdominal pain, rectal pain and bleeding, weight loss, fever and more.
If you have a family history of colon cancer and have ever found yourself wondering,
is colon cancer hereditary? we hope this article has given you all the necessary information. Don’t forget that the majority of colon cancers (95%) are not hereditary and are instead developed after birth. So — limit your risk of colorectal cancer by steering clear of unhealthy lifestyle choices and instead, focusing on your well being. Get out in nature and breathe in the fresh air. Fill your plate with a bounty of fresh fruits, vegetables, and hearty whole grains to maintain a healthy weight so that you feel good from the inside out.
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with colon cancer, rest assured that there are a variety of treatments available. At Immunity Therapy Center, we focus on natural healing and treatments for colon cancer that restore the body, the mind, and the spirit. We believe in not only killing the cancer cells but in building the immune system and giving strength to healthy cells.
Too often in conventional medicine, our bodies are beaten down and left weak, tired, and unable to fight back once treated for disease or cancer. We focus on custom holistic cancer treatment programs and attentive, individualized care. We remind our patients that their attitudes truly affect the results of their cancer treatment program and we find that patients with positive attitudes, and hope for the future, see more successful results with their diagnosis.
From all of us at Immunity Therapy Center, thanks for reading. We’re wishing you an energizing and invigorating day ahead.
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.
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.