What Causes Colon Cancer?

Cancer is caused by unusual changes in the DNA inside the cells. DNA is a chemical in the cells that serve as the blueprint for our whole body. Furthermore, its role is to control how cells function. DNA also comes from both parents and affects not only the looks but many other aspects of life. Lastly, the DNA also controls how and when the cells grow and divide to form new ones.

When bundled together, DNA’s form into genes which are like the control center of our cells. Oncogenes are genes that are responsible for controlling the growth, division, and living of cells. On the other hand, tumor suppressor genes are responsible for controlling cell division, and cell degeneration.

Cancers may occur when mutations in our DNA turn off our tumor suppressor genes, thus causing uncontrolled growth of cells. Nevertheless, not all mutations in ur genes result to cancer. (1)

What Are The Risk Factors Of Colon Cancer?

The possibility of acquiring colon cancer may vary from person to person. In many occasions, the cause of colon cancer is not known by doctors. However, there are several risk factors that are very common in relation to this type of cancer.

We listed below some common factors that affect your risk of colon cancer:

Common Colon Cancer Risk Factors

  • Inherited cancerous genes: The most common forms of inherited gene mutation include Hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer (HNPCC) or Lynch syndrome and Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP). These disorders and other inherited rare colon cancer syndromes can only be detected when a genetic testing is conducted.
  • Individual diet: Foods rich in high fat and low fiber significantly increase the risk of getting cancer of the colon. Additionally, these foods include red meat, processed meat and fried foods (foods rich in fats and calories).
  • Age: The majority of people diagnosed with colon cancer aged 50 years and above. However, colon cancer can also occur in younger but less frequently as compared to older people.
  • A family history of colon cancer: If you happen to have a close relative or family member who had or has colon cancer, then the chances of you getting it is higher than most people.
  • Race: Some studies have shown that people of African-American descent are more likely to acquire colon cancer than those of other races.
  • Inflammatory intestinal conditions: These are problems and chronic inflammatory diseases associated with the colon such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, can also increase your risk of getting colon cancer. (2)
  • Radiation therapy: Ironically, radiation therapy used to treat other types of cancer may cause colon cancer if done in an area near the abdomen.
  • Diabetes History:  Lastly, people with insulin resistance and diabetes have a higher risk of developing cancer of the colon. (3)

Other Colon Cancer Risk Factors

  • Individuals with obesity
  • Smoking and heavy drinking of alcohol
  • A sedentary (inactive) lifestyle.


American Cancer Society. (n.d.). Retrieved July 10, 2017, from https://www.cancer.org/cancer/colon-rectal-cancer/causes-risks-prevention.html#

MAYO CLINIC. (n.d.). Retrieved July 10, 2017, from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/colon-cancer/symptoms-causes/dxc-20188239

MedicineNet.com. (n.d.). Retrieved July 10, 2017, from http://www.medicinenet.com/colon_cancer/page4.htm#what_are_the_causes_and_risk_factors_of_colon_cancer