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Dr. Godwin Ofikwu Discusses What Causes Colon Cancer

According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in the U.S. in both men and women. Despite its regular appearance, the exact cause of colon cancer–as with all cancers–is unknown, says Dr. Godwin Ofikwu. Early detection is the best way to prevent colon cancer, but it can be hard to detect.

Colon cancer has many risk factors that increase your chances of developing it. These risk factors include age, family history, genetics, diet, and lifestyle choices, including smoking and alcohol consumption. It’s important to understand these risk factors so you can take the appropriate steps to lower your risk.

#1 Age

One of the most common risk factors for colon cancer is age. The older you get, the more likely you are to develop this disease. Colon cancer most commonly affects people aged 50-75 years old and it’s the third most common type of cancer in America, says Dr. Godwin Ofikwu. As you get older, your chances of getting colon cancer increase dramatically. This is because as you age, your cells divide more often which increases the chances of DNA mutations that can lead to colon cancer.

#2 Know Your Family History Advises Dr. Godwin Ofikwu

Family history is one of the most common risk factors for colon cancer. If you have a family member who has been diagnosed with this type of cancer, then your chances of developing it are much higher. This risk factor can be mitigated by being aware of your family medical history and asking questions about any cancer diagnoses in your family to get an early diagnosis if needed.

#3 Diet and Lifestyle Choices

The American Cancer Society states that diet and lifestyle choices are the second most common risk factor for developing colon cancer. Eating large quantities of red meat and processed foods have been linked to colon cancer. This may be from inflammation and stress on the colon, explains Dr. Godwin Ofikwu.

Instead, try eating plenty of veggies and fruits that are high in fiber. Whole grains and lean meat are also excellent for your colon health.

Alcohol consumption is another major risk factor, according to Mayo Clinic. Drinking alcohol increases your chances of developing colon cancer because it can lead to inflammation, which may increase the production of substances that promote abnormal cell growth.

#4 Smoking

Smoking is the number one risk factor for colon cancer–it increases your chances of developing the disease by 30%, warns Dr. Godwin Ofikwu. It can also cause other cancers, like lung cancer, and heart disease. Smoking causes your cells to divide faster than they should, which can cause damage to your DNA. When you’re younger your cells are more resilient and can repair themselves but as you get older your cells become less able to fix themselves.

Smoking puts a strain on the lungs and damages them over time. This means that people who smoke have a higher chance of developing lung cancer. Smoking in combination with other risk factors like genetics or hereditary conditions, thus giving you a greater chance of developing colon cancer.

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