Six Risk Factors for Colon Cancer

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An estimated 136,000 new colon cancer cases in the United States and more than 50,000 deaths from colon cancer occurred in 2014. Certain lifestyle and genetic factors will increase a person's risk of developing colon cancer.



Men have a slightely higher risk of developing colon cancer than women.  The lifetime risk of developing cancer of the colon or rectum is 5.9 percent for men and 5.5 percent for women.



The risk of colon cancer increases significantly with age.  More than 90 percent of colon cancer cases are diagnosed in people over the age of 50.  By age fifty, about one in ever 2,000 people per year will develop colon cancer.  By age 65, it increases to one in every 1,000 people.



People of African American descent have a much higher risk of developing colon cancer than other races. Asian/Pacific Islanders, Hispanics and Native Americans have a slightly lower risk of colon cancer than Caucasians.


Family history of cancer

About 20 to 25 percent of colorectal cancers occur in people with a family history of the disease.  The risk becomes even higher if the family member was diagnosed before the age of 60.


Lifestyle factors

Poor wellness habits such as a high fat diet, obesity, smoking and alcohol abuse will all increase the risk of colon cancer.  The longer these lifestyle habits are sustained, the higher the risk of colon cancer will become.


Inflammatory bowel disease

People with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Ulcerative Colitis or Crohn's Disease) and a family history of cancer are five time more likely to develop colon cancer than people without IBD and a family history.  In addition, people who have colon polyps, diabetes and heart disease run a higher risk of colon cancer.