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Risk Factors

Who is at risk for colorectal cancer?
Anyone can get colorectal cancer. But there are some factors that can increase your risk. Some of these increase your risk by a lot, and some by only a little:
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Most people who have this cancer are over age 50. But it can occur at any age.


Race and ethnicity
African Americans have the highest risk for colorectal cancer in the U.S. And Jews whose families are from Eastern Europe (Ashkenazi Jews) have one of the highest colorectal cancer risks of any ethnic group in the world.


Men have a slightly higher risk for this cancer than women.
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History of colorectal polyps
Polyps are growths in your colon and rectum. They are common in adults over age 50. They're often not cancer (benign). But over time, some polyps can become cancer. If you have had polyps called adenomas taken out of your colon in the past, you have an increased risk for colorectal cancer.
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History of colorectal cancer and some other cancers
People who have had colorectal cancer have an increased risk of getting it again. People with a history of cancer of the uterus or ovaries also have a higher risk for colorectal cancer.


Family history
People are at higher risk if they have a family history of colorectal cancer or polyps in a first-degree relative. This may be a parent, sibling, or child. The risk is greater if the relative was diagnosed before age 50. The risk is also greater if more than one relative was diagnosed. Still, most people with colorectal cancer don't have a family history of the disease.
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Ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease People who have an inflamed lining of the colon (inflammatory bowel disease) caused by one of these conditions have a greater risk for colorectal cancer.


Certain inherited syndromes
People with certain syndromes have a very high risk of colorectal disease. This includes familial adenomatous polyposis and Lynch syndrome (also called hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer).
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Colorectal cancer is more common in people who are overweight or obese than people who are not. This is even more true for men.


Colorectal cancer is linked to a diet high in red meats. This includes beef, pork, lamb, and veal. It's also linked to a diet high in processed meats, such as hot dogs and lunch meats.



Not being active
People who are not active are at increased risk for the disease.
Drinking a lot of alcohol
People who drink a lot of alcohol are more likely to get colorectal cancer. Limit yourself to no more than 1 drink per day for women or 2 drinks per day for men.
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Type 2 diabetes
People with type 2 diabetes are more likely to get colorectal cancer.

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