Decorative image

Risks and causes

Find out what causes bowel cancer, including lifestyle factors and other medical conditions, and see what you can do to reduce your risk.

We don’t know what causes most bowel cancers. But there are some factors that may increase your risk of developing it.

Other possible causes

Stories about potential causes are often in the media and it isn’t always clear which ideas are supported by evidence. There might be things you have heard of that we haven’t included here. This is because either there is no evidence about them or it is less clear.

For detailed information about bowel cancer risks and causes

Last reviewed: 
20 Jan 2016
  • Cancers attributable to consumption of alcohol in the UK in 2010.
    DM Parkin
    British Journal of Cancer, 2011 Dec.Vol. 6; Issue105 Suppl 2:S14-8.

  • Cancers attributable to dietary factors in the UK in 2010. II. Meat consumption.
    DM Parkin
    British Journal of Cancer, 2011 Dec. Vol 6; Issue 105 Suppl 2:S24-26.

  • Cancers in 2010 attributable to ionising radiation exposure in the UK.
    DM Parkin and SC Darby
    British Journal of Cancer. 2011 Dec. Vol 6; Issue 105 Suppl 2:S57-65

  • Diabetes mellitus and incidence and mortality of colorectal cancer: a systematic review and meta-analysis of cohort studies.
    Y Jiang, Q Ben, H Shen and others
    European Journal of Epidemiology. 2011 Nov; Vol. 26, Issue11:863-76.

  • Human papillomavirus infection and colorectal cancer risk: a meta-analysis.
    DC Damin, PK Ziegelmann and AP Damin
    Colorectal Disease, 2013 Aug; Vol 15, Issue 8:e420-8

  • Obesity and risk of colorectal cancer: a systematic review of prospective studies.
    Y Ma, Y Yang, F Wang and others
    PLoS One, 2013;Vol 8, Issue 1:e53916.

Information and help

Dangoor sponsorship

About Cancer generously supported by Dangoor Education since 2010.