Categorized | Cancer

Reduce the Risk of Colon Cancer

As for most forms of cancer, exact reasons causing colorectal cancer are still unknown. Experts claim that 90 per cent of the risk for bowel cancer is related to diet and nutrition, whereas 10 per cent is due to genetic factors. Evidence suggests that dietary factors which affect the chance of developing bowel cancer are low fibre intake, high intake of fat and calories as well as obesity. Therefore, reducing risk of bowel cancer should include high levels of fibre (vegetable fibre is thought to be more effective than cereal fibre), big amounts of green vegetables, such as cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and cauliflower, avoiding red meat and maintaining a healthy body weight by taking up regular exercise. Some researchers have suggested that taking aspirin regularly can reduce the risk of developing bowel cancer, although this is yet to be confirmed. Heavy consumption of alcohol, especially together with smoking, is thought to increase the chance of colon cancer.

About 10 per cent of bowel cancer cases are strongly connected to hereditary conditions. The most common genetic condition that causes bowel cancer is hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer, also called Lynch syndrome, which is caused by mutations in certain genes. The chance of inheriting this condition is autosomal dominant, which means that there is a fifty per cent chance for someone with this condition to pass it on to their children. This genetic condition also increases the risk of developing stomach, breast, ovarian and uterine cancer. Familial Adenomatous Polyposis, which usually causes the formation of many benign polyps in the large intestine, is another genetic disease that may lead to bowel cancer. Moreover, individuals diagnosed with ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease of the colon, which both result in chronic irritation in the lining of the bowel, have a significantly higher chance to get bowel cancer.

To minimise the risk of bowel cancer, patients are advised to exercise regularly, keep a normal body weight, aim to eat green vegetables every day and reduce the intake of beef and lamb. Moreover, people are encouraged to see their GP if there have been recent cases of bowel cancer in their family. It is necessary to seek medical attention immediately if rectal bleeding, diarrhoea, constipation, repeated abdominal pain, fatigue or weakness occurs.

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