Are You at Risk for Colorectal Cancer?

Colorectal cancer claims over 50,000 lives per year among adult men and women in the United States alone. While that statistic may seem scary, early screening and detection as well as determining your risk factors can help decrease your odds. Staying in touch with your primary physician and gastroenterologist is essential in managing your risk for colorectal cancer.

There are two main categories of risk factors: those that you can impact, and those that you cannot. Many of the risk factors that can be controlled are linked to lifestyle choices and as such can be changed to improve your health.

Some of the most common colorectal risk factors that cannot be impacted include:

Family history of colorectal cancer: As many as 1 in 3 individuals who develop colon cancer have a history of colon cancer in their families. If there is a history of colon cancer, talk to your physician to see when you should start screening for early detection.

Personal history of IBD: IBD or inflammatory bowel disease includes ulcerative colitis and Chron’s disease. If you have IBD, your risk of colorectal cancer is increased. This is in part because IBD causes long-term inflammation of the colon which can lead to an increased risk of developing cancer. If you struggle with IBD or other gastrointestinal problems, get in touch with your gastroenterologist to craft a prevention plan.

Age: Individuals over the age of 50 have an increased risk of developing colorectal cancer. Reach out to your physician and a gastroenterologist to ensure that you are conducting regular screenings. Note that the incidence of colorectal cancer is increasing at an alarming rate for individuals younger than 50. American Cancer Society recently recommended screenings to begin at age 45 for those of average risk.

Racial and Ethnic Background: For reasons not fully understood African Americans and Ashkenazi Jews have an increased risk of developing colorectal cancer.

Type 2 diabetes: Individuals with type 2 diabetes share many of the risk factors of individuals with colorectal cancer, leading to an increased risk.

Some of the most common lifestyle choices that you CAN impact include:

Your weight: Being overweight or obese can increase your odds of colorectal cancer especially in men. If you are overweight or obese contact your physician to help you get on a healthy exercise and diet program. Reaching a healthy weight and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help to reduce your risk.

Your diet: Consistently consuming foods that are high fat and high protein can increase the risk of colorectal cancer. These foods include red and processed meats. Following a healthy eating pattern that includes fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains can help reduce your risk of colorectal cancer and increase your overall health. Reach out to your physician and a dietician to help get you on the right track.

Smoking: We all know that smoking does not promote good health. And, while smoking is more commonly linked with lung cancer it has also been linked to other forms of cancer. Talk to your physician to learn more about how to quit smoking.

Alcohol Consumption: Did you know moderate to heavy alcohol use has been directly linked to an increase in colorectal cancer? Reducing your alcohol consumption is one of the biggest things you can do to live a healthier and longer life. When consuming alcohol, moderation is the key. Health professionals recommend no more than two drinks per day for men and one per day for women.


It is essential for anyone with digestive issues, concerns, or increased risk of colorectal cancer to consult with a gastroenterologist for screening. Remember that colon cancer screening saves lives. If you are looking to find a trusted, board-certified gastroenterologist in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, call DHAT at 1-800-425-3759 or visit our website at to find a DHAT physician’s office near you.