Focus On Family: Risk factors for colorectal cancer and the importance of screenings

Dr. Peter Oshin, a Gastroenterologist at Advocate Trinity Hospital in Chicago

Advocate Health Care offers online Colorectal Health Assessments available at

What are the risk factors for colorectal cancer?

Having either a personal or family history of colorectal polyps or colorectal cancer, or a personal history of inflammatory bowel disease and certain other rarer syndromes are considered risk factors. You are also at higher risk if you:

  • Have type 2 diabetes
  • Are African American (group with the highest risk in the US)
  • Are Jewish of Eastern European descent (group with the highest risk in the world)
  • Are over age 50. Anyone over 50 has a greater risk of colorectal cancer

While you can’t change the first set of risk factors, the good news is there are risk factors you can control to minimize the likelihood of colorectal cancer. These risk factors include:

  • Being overweight or obese
  • Having a sedentary / physically inactive lifestyle
  • Eating a diet high in red meat, processed meats and / or meats fried, grilled or broiled at high temperatures
  • Smoking
  • Drinking alcohol heavily
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