Did you know colon cancer is the third most common type of cancer in America? This slow-growing disease starts as non-cancerous growths in the colon called polyps. Over time, they develop into cancer.
Certain risk factors increase your chances of getting this colon cancer, which is the second leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States. Some of these factors include:
- Age (most colon cancer occurs in people over 45)
- Diet (a diet high in meat and processed food and low in fiber and veggies)
- Leading a mostly sedentary lifestyle
- Drinking alcohol
- Family history/genetics and race
- Personal history of digestive health problems
- Being overweight
- Having type 2 diabetes
- History of other cancers
And if you’re a smoker, this habit also increases your risk of developing colon cancer. What’s more, not only does smoking increase your risk of getting colon cancer, but it also affects your prognosis if you’re diagnosed.
Triple board-certified gastroenterologist, John M. Rivas, MD, and the team at the Rivas Digestive Center in Hollywood, Florida, help minimize your risk of getting colon cancer using colon cancer screenings. This simple test identifies any problems and removes precancerous growths.
Keep reading to learn more about the link between smoking and colon cancer and how Dr. Rivas and the team can help.
Smoking increases your risk of colon cancer
You already know smoking isn’t good for your health and that it increases your risk of many serious health conditions, including lung cancer and cardiovascular disease. But the link between smoking and colon cancer may not be as apparent.
However, the cancer-causing particles (carcinogens) and toxins in tobacco smoke hurt the DNA in the tissues in your body. Over time, this causes abnormal cells to grow. This is part of the reason researchers believe that people who smoke develop bigger and more numerous colon polyps.
In addition, the changes to your body’s cells also trigger the growth of more aggressive polyps, called flat adenomas. These risks are present for both light and heavy smokers, but heavy smokers increase their risk of colon cancer further—by up to 61%.
Smoking affects your colon cancer prognosis
Not only does smoking make it more likely that you’ll get colon cancer, but it also increases your risk of dying from it. People with a history of smoking are much more likely to experience a recurrence of colon cancer within three years of treatment.
And for current smokers, the risk of having a recurrence or dying from the disease is more dramatic since there’s a 47% increase in the likelihood of these occurrences. If you have additional risk factors, such as family history, poor diet, being overweight, or not exercising regularly, the chances of dying or having complications increases further.
Reduce your risk with a colon cancer screening
The good news is that a simple colon cancer screening at the Rivas Digestive Center can help catch polyps before they develop into colon cancer and can help diagnose colon cancer in the early stages when treatment is most effective.
The American Cancer Society recommends everyone age 45 and older get a colon cancer screening. Depending on your personal medical and family histories and your risk factors, like tobacco use, you might need an earlier screening.
Of course, if you’re a current smoker, the best thing to do is quit smoking. Not only will you reduce your risk of colon cancer, but you’ll also improve your overall health and the health of every major system in your body.
To learn more about the link between smoking and colon cancer or to find out if a colon cancer screening is right for you, schedule an evaluation online or over the phone at the Rivas Digestive Center in Hollywood, Florida.