Colon cancer is one of the common cancer in men and women in India.  It is a cancer of lower part of digestive system or large intestine. Cancer develops when cells grow uncontrollably and do not die like a normal cell. Although scientists do not know the exact reason behind this unusual behavior of cells that causes cancer but they have identified several potential risk factors which include both environmental and genetic factors.

Age: Majority of colon cancer is diagnosed in people above age of 50. It also occurs in younger people but the frequency is much lesser (except cases of hereditary cancers)

Inflammatory intestinal conditions: Chronic inflammatory diseases of the colon, such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, can also increase the risk of colon cancer. risk is increased by up to 15 times than  normal population after a duration of 15 to 20 years of diagnosis of inflammatory bowel disease.

Family history: If your family has a history of colon cancer especially in first degree (parents sibling or children) or in relatives diagnosed less than 40 years of agen then chances are that you might get  with this disease. the relative risk of lifetime colon cancer is shown in the table below. These syndromes include familial adenomatous polyposis and hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer, which is also known as Lynch syndrome.

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FH: Family history; 1st relative: parents /siblings; CRC: colorectal cancer

 Low-fiber, high-fat diet: A typical Western diet, a diet low in fiber and high in fat and calories may also be associated with colon cancer.   studies have found an increased risk of colon cancer in people who eat high quantities of red meat and processed meat.  50-100 grams per day of processed  red meat or red meat respectively increases the risk of colon cancer by up to 18%.

Roughly the fiber requirement of an individual is weight in kilograms divided by 2. For example a 60 kg male would require 30 grams of fiber per day.

A sedentary lifestyle:  An individual with inactive lifestyle is also more likely to develop colon cancer. Regular physical activity or exercise may reduce the risk of colon cancer. moderate exercise of up to 3-3.5 hours per week reduces the risk of colon cancer by up to 27%.

Smoking: People who smoke may have an increased risk of colon cancer.

Alcohol: moderate drinkers (2-3 drinks/day) and Heavy drinkers(>4-5 drinks/day) both are at increased risk of colon cancer. infact alcohol plus smoking increases the risk of cancer by upto 9 times. intake of alcohol may also increase your risk of colon cancer. these two habits even in moderation puts one at increased risk of cancer.

If you find yourself in the above mentioned risk groups then you need to know more about colon cancer screening and colon cancer prevention techniques.

If you notice any signs and symptoms of colon cancer like blood in your stool or a persistent change in your bowel habit, make an appointment with your doctor. Your doctor will recommend you screening depending on the criticality of your case.