Healthy Living

What Causes Colon Cancer?

What Causes Colon Cancer?

As with any cancer, genetic factors play a role in colon cancer as well. However, greater than 75% to 90% of the population develops colon cancer with little or no genetic risk. This means that genetic factors play only a minor role in colon cancers.

What are the genetic factors that predispose you to colon cancer?

It is found that carcinoma of the colon is more common among individuals with Familial Adenomatous Polyposis. Familial Adenomatous Polyposis is an autosomal dominant condition, meaning that the affected patient usually has at least one parent with the disease. It is a reasonably common condition occurring in 1:30000 people. In these patients with Familial Adenomatous Polyposis, more than 100 polyps begin to develop in the large bowel (also known as the colon) during their teenage years.

Another common form of inherited colon cancer is Hereditary Non polyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC). This is also called as Lynch syndrome. Patients with this syndrome are at a higher risk of developing colon and other cancers. They tend to develop these cancers before the age of 50-years-old.

Other conditions, such as Gardner’s syndrome and Turcot’s syndrome, also increase the chances of developing colon cancer in these individuals.

Remember that just by having a positive genetic history does not suggest that you will definitely get the disease, it means that you are at a higher risk of developing colon cancer compared to a person with no genetic history.  If you are worried about the family history of colon cancer, talk to your doctor about whether the positive family history puts you at a higher risk of developing colon cancer. 

While genetic factors only play a small role in colon cancer, there are other factors that largely contribute to the development of carcinoma of the colon.

What are these other factors that influence colon cancer?

SAD factors:  It is sad to know that SAD factors are responsible for the development of colon cancer.

S – Smoking

A – Alcohol: Drinking one glass of alcohol per day may put you at a higher risk of developing colon cancer.

D – Dietary factors such as red meat. Red meat consists of high amounts of animal fat. This alters the intestinal bacteria which converts the primary bile acids to secondary bile acids. This is the beginning of the formation of carcinogenic compounds. A diet rich in processed meat and low in fibers also increases the risk of developing colorectal carcinoma.

Other risk factors of colonic cancer includes, old age, sedentary life style, male gender, presence of colon polyps, race, family history of colon cancer and other diseases such as diabetes.

Ureterosigmoidostomy also increases the risk of colon cancer greatly by about 100 to 500 times. Ureterosigmoidostomy is a surgical procedure done to patients with bladder cancer in whome the bladder has to be removed. In this procedure, the ureters which carry urine from the kidneys are attached to the sigmoid colon.