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How can I prevent Colorectal Cancer?

sb10068539ai-001Doctors can not always explain why one person gets cancer and another does not. However, scientists have studied general patterns of cancer in the population to learn what things around us and what things we do in our lives may increase our chance of developing cancer.

Anything that increases a person’s chance of developing a disease is called a risk factor. Prevention means avoiding the risk factors that can be controlled so that the chance of developing cancer decreases.


Colorectal Cancer Prevention

Although many risk factors can be avoided, it is important to keep in mind that avoiding risk factors does not guarantee that you will not get cancer. Also, most people with a particular risk factor for cancer do not actually get the disease. Some people are more sensitive than others to factors that can cause cancer. Talk to your doctor about methods of preventing cancer that might be effective for you.Many risk factors that are modifiable, though not all can be avoided, include:

  • Diet and Lifestyle: Diet appears to be associated with colorectal cancer risk. Among populations that consume a diet high in fat, protein, calories, alcohol, and meat (both red and white) and low in calcium and folate, colorectal cancer is more likely to develop than among populations that consume a low-fat, high-fiber diet. A diet low in vitamin D may also increase the risk of colorectal cancer. One study has found that a diet low in fat and high in fiber, fruits, and vegetables does not reduce the risk of colorectal cancer recurrence during a 3- to 4-year period. A diet high in saturated fat combined with a sedentary lifestyle may increase the risk of colorectal cancer. There is also evidence that smoking cigarettes may be associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer.
  • Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs: Some studies have shown that the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may be associated with a reduced risk of colorectal cancer.
  • Polyp Removal: The removal of polyps in the colon may be associated with a reduced risk of colorectal cancer.
  • Female Hormone Use: Postmenopausal female hormone use is associated with a reduced risk of colon cancer but not rectal cancer.


Want to learn more about prevention? 

Visit the National Cancer Institue's web site.