People who have no family history of colorectal cancer are advised to start testing for pre-cancerous intestinal polyps at age 50. Those people who have a close relative suffering from colon cancer need to start the screening earlier.
A study that involved 160,000 people with colon cancer shows that people who drink and smoke also need earlier testing and that age 50 could be too late for them to start testing. The study results showed that people with such habits developed the disease a decade earlier. The negative effects of tobacco and alcohol were equal on both men and women.
People who used to drink and smoke developed colorectal cancer 7.8 years earlier than those who never drank or smoked. Those who had only one of the two negative habits were diagnosed 5.2 years earlier and the smoking habits seemed to be harsh especially on women as those who smoked but never drank developed cancer 6.3 years earlier than those who didn’t while men developed the disease 3.7 years earlier.
The problem with the study is that it cannot give a complete picture because some of the important factors were left out such as genetic predisposition, environmental factors as well as the amounts of tobacco and alcohol patients consumed and for how long.
The message that researchers are trying to send us is that there is a way to prevent cancer from developing. Early screenings should be done in order to detect pre-cancerous polyps and simple life modifications should be made to greatly contribute to cancer prevention.