Monday, February 11, 2013

Article # 271. What Are the Causes of Colon Polyps?



What Are the Causes of Colon Polyps?
Colon polyps are clumps of cells that form on the lining of the colon. Certain factors such as age, weight and lifestyle habits increase risk for developing colon polyps. MayoClinic.com notes that in many cases, they are non-cancerous; however, if undetected, over time the polyps can become cancerous. In some instances, polyps do not cause symptoms, which makes early detection difficult. When symptoms are present they take the form of rectal bleeding or blood in stool, obstructed bowels or abdominal pain. Physician screening for colon polyps is suggested if risk factors exist or if symptoms appear.
Formation of Polyps
Although much is understood about the process leading to the formation of colon polyps, their exact cause remains unknown. The development of polyps is associated with abnormal cell growth. Healthy cells normally grow and divide in an orderly way to help the body function properly and remain healthy. Occasionally, something goes wrong with the normal cell growth and division process. Healthy cells become altered or begin to grow uncontrollably and many extra cells are produced---more than the body needs. These unneeded cells often clump together to form masses. When this process occurs in the colon, the precancerous cell masses form along the wall of the colon and are called polyps. Over a long period of time, usually several years, the polyps may become cancerous, which results in colon cancer.
Risk Factors That Cannot Be Controlled
According to the Mayo Clinic, 90 percent of people with cancerous colon polyps are over 50. Although younger people can develop polyps, it happens much less frequently. Also uncontrollable is a personal history of colon polyps or cancer. People who have already had colon polyps or colon cancer are at a greater risk of developing more polyps in the future. Those with a history of bowel disease, such as Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis, are also at greater risk of developing colon polyps. Finally, genetics plays a part. A person with a close family member who has had colon polyps or colon cancer is at greater risk of developing polyps. The risk is even greater if the family member developed colon cancer before the age of 60.


Risk Factors That Can Be Controlled
A diet high in fat and low in fiber has been associated with increased chances of developing colon polyps. A sedentary lifestyle with too little exercise may increase the risk of developing colon polyps as well. People who are overweight are at greater risk of getting colon polyps than people with normal weight. Heavy consumption of alcohol and smokers are at greater risk of developing colon polyps. Those with diabetes and insulin resistance may also be at risk.
Genetic Contribution
A condition referred to as familial adenomatous polyposis, or FAP, is an inherited syndrome of polyps in the colon and small intestine that turns cancerous. The Cleveland Clinic explains that this condition is genetically linked to chromosome-5 and when development begins, typically it starts in the teens. Hundreds to thousands of colon polyps form in this condition and in most cases the colon or rectum of the individual with the condition has to be removed to prevent colon cancer. A 60 to 70 percent chance of inheriting FAP is likely if one parent has the condition.







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