It’s not news that cigarettes are bad for you. Smoking is an unhealthy habit associated with lung cancer, COPD, heart disease, and stroke. Although experts are unsure how, mounting evidence suggests that not only is smoking is a risk factor for developing colon cancer it also decreases patients’ survival odds. The largest study to examine the connection between cigarette consumption and colon cancer was recently published. Its findings are both confirming and surprising.

Smoking & Colon Cancer Outcome

Newcastle University and National Cancer Registry Ireland researchers set out to prove a causal link between smoking status at diagnosis and patient prognosis. After following Irish colon cancer patients for five years, they found that current smokers have a 14% increased risk of death. Mortality was even higher among smoking patients who only had surgery, as compared with those who also received chemotherapy. Interestingly, former smokers diagnosed with colon cancer are not more likely to die from it than patients who never tried cigarettes. If you are at risk for developing colon cancer, it’s not too late to quit and better your overall health.

Risk Factors & Prevention

The best way to beat colon cancer is to improve your survival odds before diagnosis through regular screenings and a healthy lifestyle. If you smoke, are over 50-years-old, have a family history of colon polyps or cancer or suffer from ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, you are at an increased risk. But daily physical activity could cut this risk in half. High fiber diets—low in red meat and animal fat and rich in fruits and vegetables—are also beneficial.

Symptoms & Survival

In the United States, colon cancer is the third most common cancer and the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths across sexes. Colon cancer signs include a persistent change in bowel movements, an unabated urge to move the bowels, dark or bloody stool, abdominal cramps and pain as well as weakness, fatigue and unintentional weight loss. Currently, there are over one million colon cancer survivors in the U.S. Hope is not lost. If you experience any of the above signs of colon cancer, contact the colorectal specialists at GI Associates to explore your treatment options today.

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