By Lisyuri Gallardo, Tobacco Navigator

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.  The general public is usually aware of the link between lung cancer and smoking; however, colorectal cancer more often than not goes unheard of when the topic at hand is smoking and the effects that it can have on your health.  Amazingly, research continues to identify more diseases caused by smoking, such as colorectal cancer, even 50 years after the Surgeon General’s first report on smoking.

 Colorectal cancer is a cancer of the colon or rectum, which may begin as a small, noncancerous, clump of cells that forms on the lining of the colon or rectum.  There has been sufficient evidence to infer a causal relationship between smoking and colorectal cancer.  For example, we know that cigarette smoke contains at least 70 carcinogens, one of which is called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs); one study found that DNA adducts, or, pieces of DNA that were covalently bonded to a potent PAH, were detected in colonic mucosa more frequently and at higher concentrations in smokers than in non-smokers.  The findings of this particular study were of special interest because adduct levels in the epithelium of the colon have been found at higher levels in colorectal cancer case subjects than in control subjects. 

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States and its roots are embedded in the chronic behavior of smoking.  For information on screening for colorectal cancer contact your primary care provider.  For information on smoking cessation call us today at 719-587-6334

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