Risk factors for colorectal cancer

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Colorectal cancer is more likely to develop due to the interaction of various factors, such as diet, lifestyle and genetic inheritance.  


Diet. Diet contributes to the development of colorectal cancer; in fact eating red meats, processed meats and very well-done meats or which have been in direct contact with flames has been associated with a greater risk of suffering colorectal cancer. On the other hand, a diet high in fibre, vegetables, fruit and milk or other dairy products seems to have a protective effect. Nevertheless, despite these associations, researchers have not yet clearly identified which foods or nutrients are the main causes of colorectal cancer.

Beer mug and cannabis

Lifestyle. A lack of exercise, overweight and obesity, alcohol consumption and tobacco consumption all favour the appearance of colorectal cancer.

Family and family tree indicating hereditary factors

Hereditary factors. Genetic inheritance plays an important role in the development of colorectal cancer. As such, hereditary colorectal cancer corresponds to 5–10% of all occurrences and up to 20–25% of cases feature relatives who have also had colorectal cancer in which genetic inheritance is believed to be involved.

However, in most cases (70–75%) colorectal cancer is sporadic, in other words, it is not caused by mutations in the genes inherited from our parents but is instead related to diet and lifestyle.

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Substantiated information by:

Antonio Maria Lacy Fortuny
Estela Pineda Losada
Francesc Balaguer Prunes
Mª Rosa Costa Quintàs

Published: 20 February 2018
Updated: 20 February 2018

The donations that can be done through this webpage are exclusively for the benefit of Hospital Clínic of Barcelona through Fundació Clínic per a la Recerca Biomèdica and not for BBVA Foundation, entity that collaborates with the project of PortalClínic.


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