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What Are The Risk Factors For Colon Cancer?

Like most cancers, the most important risk factors for colon cancer are those we can't change: age and a family history (of colon polyps, or colon or rectal cancer). Other unchangeable risk factors include:

  • blood type A
  • a history of precancerous polyps or previous colon cancer and
  • a history of chronic inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease

Other risk factors are changeable and there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of colon cancer. The most important step is to have regular screening tests. Other steps include:

  • drinking 8 to 10 glasses of water per day.
  • Eating 5 servings a day of fruits and vegetables.
  • Increasing your dietary fiber intake.
  • Getting regular aerobic exercise
  • Maintaining a healthy weight and
  • Limiting alcohol intake
  • Studies have also shown that in women, birth control pill usage and hormone replacement therapy may reduce colon cancer risk.

Symptoms that should send you to the doctor for evaluation include:

  • a decreased appetite or unexplained weight loss
  • fatigue or unexplained anemia
  • unusual abdominal pain or cramps
  • a change in bowel habits (such as prolonged diarrhea or severe constipation)
  • seeing any blood in the stool or rectal bleeding.

Created: 3/2/2004  -  Donnica Moore, M.D.

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