The Risk Factors for Colon Cancer

The rate of people being diagnosed with colorectal cancer each year has dropped since the mid-1980’s, mainly because more individuals are getting screened and changing their lifestyles to decrease risk factors. According to, incidence rates dropped by 1% each year between 2013 to 2017. Even so, results of colon cancer awareness surveys show that a whopping 83 percent and 67 percent of participants are not aware of the disease’s risk factors and warning signs, respectively.

Learning more about the disease, particularly its risk factors, can help you take proactive measures to ultimately reduce your likelihood of developing it. Read on to learn about some of the risk factors for colon cancer.

Inherited Genetic Mutations

Inherited genetic mutations, which account for up to 10 percent of colon cancer cases, are disorders people acquired from either of their parents.

The two most common inherited syndromes linked to colon cancer are familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) and Lynch syndrome (hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer, or HNPCC). There are a number of rarer inherited syndromes that can also increase your risk for the disease.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

Inflammatory bowel disease is an umbrella term encompassing two conditions that cause chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract: Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

Several earlier studies showed that about 3 percent of people living with Crohn’s disease for 10 years and approximately 8 percent of people who have had the condition for 30 years developed colon cancer.

Separate research has found that people with ulcerative colitis have a greater risk of developing colon cancer: 8 percent after 20 years and up to 18 percent after 30 years of living with this type of IBD.

Low-Fiber, High-Fat Diet

Several studies have established a greater incidence of colon cancer among people who habitually consume the following:

  • Red and processed meats
  • Refined starches
  • Sugary beverages (e.g., sodas, sweetened waters, energy drinks, fruit drinks, etc.)
  • Foods high in saturated fats (e.g., full-fat dairy products, poultry skin, tropical oils, etc.)

Poor Lifestyle Habits

A sedentary lifestyle can also put you at a greater risk for colon cancer, as can smoking and heavy alcohol consumption.

Colon Cancer Screening in California

If you have the risk factors for colon cancer, visit one of our board-certified GI physicians here at Genensis Healthcare Partners. We will do a comprehensive evaluation to determine the most suitable screening method for you and work closely with you to help you effectively mitigate these risks.

If colon cancer happens to run in your family, we can refer you to a genetic counselor, who can thoroughly assess your risk for the disease and advise you on an appropriate screening schedule.

To schedule an appointment with one of our GI doctors, call us at our location near you, or simply use this convenient form. We look forward to serving you!