Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Colorectal Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Who Gets Colon Cancer Earlier?

Study: Men, Smokers, Drinkers May Get Colon Cancer Earlier
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

March 28, 2006 -- Colon cancer may start earlier in men, current smokers, and current drinkers, a new study shows.

The finding could mean that those people should be checked for colon cancer at an earlier age, the researchers write. Currently, people at normal risk of colorectal cancer are due to begin routine colorectal screening at age 50.

Colorectal cancer is America's No. 2 cause of cancer deaths, and early detection can boost survival, write Anna Zisman, MD, and colleagues in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Zisman's study raises many questions. Until those questions are answered, "the conclusions from our report should be limited to stating that drinking and smoking are markers for young age at colorectal cancer presentation," write the researchers.

Zisman works in the internal medicine department at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.

Studying Smoking, Drinking

"Smoking is a well-established colorectal cancer risk factor, associated with a twofold increase in risk and implicated in 12% of all colorectal cancer deaths," write Zisman and colleagues.

"Results of most studies indicate that alcohol use causes a similar increase in colorectal cancer risk," they continue. Cancer is complicated and many other factors -- including genetics, lifestyle, and obesity -- are also important, the researchers note.

Zisman's team couldn't track all of those factors at once. They focused on smoking and alcohol, studying more than 161,000 colorectal cancer patients from a large, national database.

Data showed alcohol or tobacco within the past year (current smokers or drinkers) or years earlier (past smokers or drinkers). Patients' amount of tobacco or alcohol use, changes in those habits, and other lifestyle factors weren't available.

Today on WebMD

Colorectal cancer cells
The right diagnosis is the most important factor.
man with a doctor
Our health check will steer you in the right direction.
sauteed cherry tomatoes
Fight cancer one plate at a time.
bladder cancer x-ray
Do you know the warning signs?
Colon vs Rectal Cancer
New Colorectal Treatments
can lack of sleep affect your immune system
Cancer Facts Quiz
Virtual Colonoscopy
Picture of the Colon
Vitamin D