Risk Factor

Risk Factors for Colorectal Cancer

The majority of colorectal tumors are found in patients over age 50. However, the disease can happen at any age so it is important to know your family history and the following risk factors.

  • Age — Most people who have colorectal cancer are over age 50; however, it can occur at any age.
  • Race and ethnicity — African-Americans have the highest risk for colorectal cancer of all racial groups in the U.S. Jews of Eastern European descent (Ashkenazi Jews) have the highest colorectal cancer risk of any ethnic group in the world.
  • Diet — Colorectal cancer is often associated with a diet high in red and processed meats.
  • Personal history of colorectal polyps — Benign growths on the wall of the colon or rectum are common in people over age 50, and may lead to colorectal cancer.
  • Personal history of colorectal cancer — People who have had colorectal cancer have an increased risk for another colorectal cancer.
  • Family history — People with a strong family history of colorectal cancer or polyps in a first-degree relative (especially in a parent or sibling before the age of 45 or in two first-degree relatives of any age) have an increased risk for colorectal cancer.
  • Ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease — People who have an inflamed lining of the colon have an increased risk for colorectal cancer.
  • Inherited syndromes, such as familial adenomatous polyposis or hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer, also known as Lynch syndrome
  • Obesity
  • Physical inactivity
  • Heavy alcohol consumption
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Smoking
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