Get them Before they Get You
Colon polyps, ranging from pea-sized to the size of a golf ball, affect as many as 30% of middle aged and older adults. While most colon polyps do no harm, some of them become cancerous with time. Most of the time there are no symptoms, so regular screening is important to get those polyps before they get you. Most of the time, early stage polyps are easy and safe to remove.
While most polyps cause no symptoms, if you experience any of the following symptoms see your doctor:
Blood in your stool
Changes in bowel habits
Abnormal Cell Growth
Polyps, while not often cancerous, are the result of abnormal cell growth. Healthy cell growth and division is controlled by two groups of genes. Any mutation in these genes may cause cells to continue to divide even when these new cells aren't needed. Such unregulated growth of cells in the colon and rectum may cause polyps to form, and with time, some of the polyps may become cancerous.
Colon polyps fall into three main categories:
Adenomatous-Your doctor will aim to remove adenomatous polyps before they grow larger than a pencil eraser; beyond this size, the chance increases that these will become malignant.
Hyperplastic-These don't often become malignant.
Inflammatory- Resulting from a bout of ulcerative colitis or an attack of Crohn's disease, these polyps are not a significant health threat.
Some of the risk factors that may predispose you to colon polyps and colon cancer include:
Age-The risk increases from age 40. Most colon cancer patients are 50 or older.
Diet-Including fiber and lots of antioxidant containing fruits and vegetables in your diet, decreases your risk for colon polyps and colon cancer.
Drinking-Drink too much? Alcohol abuse increases the incidence of colon polyps and colon cancer.
Family history-The more family members you have with colon polyps and colon cancer, the greater your risk of developing these conditions.
Gastrointestinal conditions-Crohn's disease and other conditions like Irritable Bowel Disease predispose you to colon polyps and cancer.
Obesity-If you're 30 or more pounds overweight, consider yourself at risk for colon polyps and colon cancer.
Race-Black people have more colon polyps and colon cancer.
Sedentary lifestyle-Inactive people have a higher incidence of colon polyps and cancer since inactivity may prevent the elimination of waste.
Sex-Men have a greater tendency to colon polyps and colon cancer.
n't Drink and Smoke
Smoking-If you smoke you have a 30-40% higher risk of developing colon polyps and colon cancer. If you smoke and drink together, the risk is even higher.