Reducing Colon Cancer Risk – Don’t Rely On Gut Feelings

2009-11-27 | |
Last updated: 2009-11-27

For many years, a “Westernized” lifestyle with its inactivity and poor diet, have been associated with an increased risk of colon cancer. With so many of us overweight and eating poorly, the number of people at risk is considerable. Despite this, gains have been against the disease through awareness and prevention campaigns. This is good news considering that colon cancer is the third most common cause of cancer death in “Westernized” nations.

What Are The Risks Factors For Developing Colon Cancer?

As a disease associated with lifestyle factors, the risk of developing colon cancer is particularly associated with the following aspects of “Westernized” lifestyle:

  • physical inactivity
  • obesity
  • low fruit consumption
  • low vegetable consumption
  • diet high in fats
  • diet low in fiber
  • high red meat consumption
  • smoking

However, the condition is not only one of lifestyle and those with the following conditions also have a higher risk of developing the disease:

  • crohn’s disease
  • ulcerative colitis
  • colon cancer in the family
  • prior breast cancer

As well, for reasons that have not yet been determined despite considerable research, those of African ancestry living in Westernized nations have a roughly 25% higher risk than Caucasians and a 50% higher risk than those of Asian ancestry. This suggests that still more research is required to understand the reason for the discrepancies. Studies so far have eliminated differences in obesity and illnesses as being the cause. However, given the importance of diet in the equation, cultural differences in eating habits might very well be part of the cause.

How Many People Are At Risk For Colon Cancer?

In the US, there are roughly 150,000 cases annually and about 50,000 people, or a third, will die. In other western countries like the UK, the numbers are 36,000 diagnosed with 16,000 dying and in Canada 22,000 are diagnosed, and 9,100 will die. Though the numbers in “Westernized” countries are getting better, the number of people dying is still considerable and greater prevention efforts are necessary.

Worse still, these “Westernized” lifestyle habits are being “exported” to developing countries with the result being a steady increase in the risks of this disease within these countries.

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Category: Disease Prevention, Health Risks

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