Common Risk Factors Associated With Colo-rectal Cancer

There are many risk factors for coo-rectal cancer, some of these are preventable while others are not. It is thought that around half of all colo-rectal cancer deaths could be prevented through regular screenings and lifestyle changes. Here are some of the more common risk factors associated with colo-rectqal cancer.


Men are slightly more likely to develop colo-rectal cancer than women. In particular, men are about 60% more likely to develop rectal cancer while males and females have about the same incidence of colon cancer.


The risk of developing colo-rectal cancer is strongly linked to age. About 98% of all cases occur in people aged over 40, around 90% in people aged over 50 and, and around 70% in people over the age of 60.


African Americans and Hispanics appear to be at a slightly greater risk of developing colo-rectal cancer than Caucasians.

Family History

There appears to be a large genetic component of colo-rectal cancer. A history of colo-rectal cancer or polyps in first degree relatives raises an individuals risk of developing the disease. Around 20% of colo-rectal cancers are thought to be due to genetic factors.

Inherited Disorders

This includes disorders such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) which leads to a large number of polyps developing in the colon or rectum at a very young age (often before the age of 20). Other inherited disorders include hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer (HNPCC), and Peutz-Jeghers syndrome.

Inflammatory Bowel Diseases

Inflammatory bowel diseases includes disorders such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. These are known to increase an individuals risk of developing colo-rectal cancer, particularly at a younger age.


Diets high in fat have been associated with a greater risk of colo-rectal cancer. Diets high in red and processed meats are also thought to increase colo-rectal cancer risk. People that consume low amounts of fiber are also at a greater probability of developing the disease.

Lack Of Physical Activity

Those who perform moderate exercise at least three times a week are at around a 40% lower risk of developing colo-rectal cancer than those who perform moderate exercise less than three times a week. Physical activity can also improve a persons survival outlook after being diagnosed with the disease.


Obesity is a strong risk factor for colo-rectal cancer. One study found that people with a body mass index (BMI) greater than 35 have around an 80% greater risk of colo-rectal cancer than people with a normal BMI (between 19 and 24.5).


Smoking is thought to increase the number and size of polyps in the colon and carcinogens in tobacco are known to increase the incidence of most forms of cancer including colon and rectal cancers.

Heavy Alcohol Consumption

Studies have found that alcohol consumption of more than 25 standard drinks a week increases colo-rectal cancer risk significantly.

Type-2 Diabetes

People with type-2 diabetes are more likely to develop colo-rectal cancer and are more likely to die from it than people without type-2 diabetes, even after adjusting for risk factors common to both diabetes and colo-rectal cancer.

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