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Colon cancer is the third leading cause of cancer and cancer deaths for both men and women in the United States.
And while we think of colon cancer as only something to worry about as we get older, the truth is that it can strike at any age, a fact which has led doctors to recommend earlier and earlier screening.
The good news is that knowing your risks of the disease, by using one of the five screening options for colon cancer and being aware of any predispositions you may have, can help you fight back before it starts.
So, what should you look for?
Colon cancer risk factors include:
- Family history of the cancer
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- History of polyps
- Type 2 diabetes
And now there’s one more to add to the list — your height.
As important as age or genetics
You see, doctors have long noticed that taller people tend to develop colorectal cancer more frequently. Yet, previous research into that risk had produced conflicting results.
So researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine set out to settle the issue for good so that we can be forewarned and forearmed with the knowledge we need in the battle against cancer.
“This is the largest study of its kind to date. It builds on evidence that taller height is an overlooked risk factor, and should be considered when evaluating and recommending patients for colorectal cancer screenings,” said Gerard Mullin, M.D., associate professor at Johns Hopkins.
The team analyzed the height of people over 285,000 people who were either diagnosed with colon cancer or colon polyps, as well as another 1,400 plus participants who underwent an outpatient colonoscopy.
And overall, they found that people who fall in the highest percentile of height have a 24 percent higher risk of developing colorectal cancer than the shortest within the lowest percentile.
“Every 10-centimeter increase (about 4 inches) in height was found to be associated with a 14 percent increased risk of developing colorectal cancer and 6 percent increased odds of having adenomas (polyps which can become cancerous),” says Mullin.
To put it into plain, simple English, this means that men who are 6’1” and women who are 5’8” or taller are at a 14 percent increased risk of colorectal cancer and a six percent increased risk of adenomas.
“One possible reason for this link is that adult height correlates with body organ size. More active proliferation in organs of taller people could increase the possibility of mutations leading to malignant transformation,” says Elinor Zhou, M.D., co-first author of the study.
A previous study also found that, for every extra 10 centimeters above average height, cancer risk increases by 11 to 13 percent.
Colon cancer protection
So if you fall into those height ranges, asking your doctor about earlier screening could be a life-saving step.
Additionally, if you’re at higher risk, it’s vital to remember the old adage, “An ounce of prevention’s worth a pound of cure.”
That means getting checked and staying up on colonoscopies. But lifestyle factors have a major impact on cancer risks as well…
- Exercise regularly and spend less time sitting, since even watching just two hours or more of TV can increase your risk by 70 percent
- Follow a healthy diet and eat foods that are shown to reduce the risk of colon cancer or polyps. No cancer diet would be complete without broccoli — the cancer-fighting superfood, thanks to sulforaphane.
- Taking curcumin and boswellic acid, which have been found to regulate certain microRNA pathways in human colorectal cancer.
- Supplementing with vitamin D since higher blood levels have been linked to lower rates of the cancer
When it comes to colon cancer, knowing your risks and taking steps to mitigate them can make all the difference.
Editor’s note: Discover how to live a cancer prevention lifestyle — using foods, vitamins, minerals and herbs — as well as little-known therapies allowed in other countries but denied to you by American mainstream medicine. Click here to discover Surviving Cancer! A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding the Causes, Treatments and Big Business Behind Medicine’s Most Frightening Diagnosis!
Key Statistics for Colorectal Cancer – American Cancer Society
Colorectal Cancer Risk Factors – American Cancer Society