Colorectal CancerColorectal Cancer Causes

Let's Talk About Colorectal Cancer Causes

Who gets it? And why? There's still a ton to learn about this serious condition. We went to the experts to find out exactly what we do (and don't) know right now.

    Our Pro PanelColorectal Cancer Causes

    We went to some of the nation's top experts in colorectal cancer to bring you the most up-to-date information possible.

    Leonid Cherkassky, M.D.

    Leonid Cherkassky, M.D.Assistant Professor of Oncology

    Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center
    Buffalo, NY
    Gautam Mankaney, M.D.

    Gautam Mankaney, M.D.Gastroenterologist

    Cleveland Clinic
    Cleveland, OH
    Eduardo Vilar-Sanchez, M.D., Ph.D.

    Eduardo Vilar-Sanchez, M.D., Ph.D.Associate Professor of Clinical Cancer Prevention

    The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
    Houston, TX

    Frequently Asked QuestionsColorectal Cancer Causes

    Can taking aspirin cut my risk of colon cancer?

    Taking an aspirin a day for 10 to 20 years cuts the risk of colon cancer by 40%, according to a review by the United States Preventive Services Task Force. Unfortunately, taking a daily aspirin also ups the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding and certain kinds of stroke, so you should talk to your doctor about how the potential risks and benefits net out for you.

    Does taking calcium reduce the risk of colorectal cancer?

    This is an open question. Some studies suggest that people who take calcium supplements—or eat a lot of dairy, which typically is a good source of calcium—are less likely to develop colon cancer. The National Cancer Institute is still evaluating the evidence, but in the meantime, there’s little downside to boning up.

    How does hormone replacement therapy affect colon cancer risk?

    Taking estrogen plus progestin hormone therapy after menopause may cut the risk of invasive colon cancer, according to recent studies. On the flip side, hormone therapy increases your risk of breast cancer, so talk with your doctor about what makes the most sense for you.

    I’m at high risk of colon cancer. When should I start getting screened?

    If you have a family history—say your mother, father, sibling, or child has had the disease—you should get your first colonoscopy at age 40, or 10 years earlier than the earliest diagnosis among your relatives. Experts suggest that African-Americans be screened starting at age 45.

    Lisa Davis

    Lisa Davis

    A health reporter and editor in New York, Lisa Davis has contributed to numerous outlets, including Health, O, the Oprah Magazine, Vogue, Science News, and others.