Cancer is a dreaded disease that has taken and is still taking the lives of people who would have otherwise had productive years ahead of them. The possible causes of cancer are an on-going debate in the scientific field and this article will specifically look at the connection between hemorrhoids and cancer. So, the big question is, can hemorrhoids cause cancer? Read on and find out.
Colon Cancer vs Hemorrhoids Symptoms
Colon cancer and hemorrhoids have a plethora or similar symptoms and this makes them nearly indistinguishable. However, there are a couple of tell tale signs that you can use to differentiate them.
The symptoms of colon cancer are as follows:
- Unexplained weight loss
- Bowel obstruction
- Changing of stool e.g. narrow or ribbon-shaped stool
- Persistent and unexplainable vomiting and nausea
- Rectal pain
The symptoms of hemorrhoids include:
- Hard lumps around the anus
- Painless rectal bleeding
- Itching and irritation
- Pain in and around the anus
What is Colon Cancer?
Colon cancer is the abnormal multiplication of cells in the colon. The condition usually begins with small benign lumps (polyps) that grow inside the colon. Eventually, some of the polyps become cancerous.
What are Hemorrhoids?
Hemorrhoids are distended veins of the rectum and anus. You may detect their presence when you feel hard lumps around the anus as you wipe. Hemorrhoids are also accompanied with symptoms like itching and pain especially after bowel movements. You may also experience painless rectal bleeding which occurs when hard stool scrapes pre-existing hemorrhoids.
What Causes Colon Cancer and What Causes Hemorrhoids?
Normally, the DNA of your cells gives instructions to your cells to divide and grow for your body to function properly. When this DNA becomes damaged, cells continue to multiply even when they’re not required to. As the cells increase in number, a tumor forms and this is how cancer occurs. Colon cancer, therefore, is caused when DNA of the cells in the colon change and cause abnormal cell division. Some factors put certain people at a higher risk of developing colon cancer and they are:
People who eat a lot of red and unprocessed meat are at a higher risk of developing colon cancer. The compound haem which gives red meat its color boosts the production of a carcinogenic (cancer-causing) compound in the body known as N-nitroso compounds.
People with genetic abnormalities may develop adenomatous polyps which can get larger and cancerous over time. Genetic predisposition accounts for 5% of the likelihood of developing colon cancer.
When you lead a sedentary lifestyle, you are at a higher risk of developing colon cancer. This is because you are more likely to gain weight when excess fat in the body raises the levels of hormones and chemicals that influence the rate of cell growth.
If you’re going through radiation therapy to treat other cancers, especially in the abdominal regions, you are at a higher risk of developing colon cancer. Radiation can cause an abnormal replication of body cells.
Hemorrhoids occur when the blood vessels in the rectum and anus are put under strain so that blood flow in them is hindered. The strain may be caused by:
When you struggle to pass stool, it strains the blood vessels of the anus and rectum and they end up being engorged with blood. Continued straining could cause bleeding from existing hemorrhoids.
Excess Body Weight
When you’re obese or overweight, your blood vessels in the rectum and anus are strained from enduring all that bodyweight.
Sitting for Too Long
When you spend almost all day sitting, the muscles in the rectum and anus are stretched so veins end up bulging and swelling.
When expectant mothers get to the third trimester, the fetus’s weight sits heavily on major blood vessels carrying blood from the lower parts of the body to the heart. This results in swelling of the blood vessels in their feet and even in the rectum and anus. Read more here: Hemorrhoids during pregnancy
Can Hemorrhoids Cause Cancer?
Hemorrhoids and colon cancer are two distinct conditions but they have a few similar symptoms. One of those symptoms is rectal bleeding which could either indicate the presence of hemorrhoids or colon cancer. This is why you need to consult a doctor when you experience rectal bleeding so that you can know which of the two conditions you’re suffering from. It's worth noting that hemorrhoids do not cause colon cancer. Hemorrhoids are non cancerous swellings caused by pressure on the blood vessels in the rectum and anus.
How to Stay Healthy
You need to practice some healthy habits to have a healthy gut and prevent conditions like hemorrhoids and colon cancer. Below are some of the ways you can achieve this:
Eat Foods Rich in Fiber
Eating foods with enough fiber ensures that your stool is softened and it has enough bulk to quickly and easily move down the digestive tract. These foods include fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and root vegetables.
Drink Lots of Water
Water and fiber go hand in hand because water dissolves soluble fiber to make a gel-like substance that softens the stool. You should drink at least 6 glasses of water daily to prevent constipation.
Probiotics are foods that encourage the health of ‘good’ bacteria in the gut that help in digestion and excretion. They also get rid of toxins and harmful bacteria. Foods that are considered probiotics include kimchi, yogurt, kombucha, pickles, kefir, and sauerkraut.
Exercising regularly will boost digestive functions and keep stool moving quickly down the gut. It also lowers your risk of colon cancer because you avoid a sedentary lifestyle.
Practice Good Toilet Habits
When you get the urge to pass stool, don’t delay going to the toilet because the stool will harden and lead to constipation. You should also avoid straining as you move your bowels so that you don’t hurt your rectum and anus veins in the process.
When you experience symptoms that make you suspect you could be suffering from hemorrhoids or colon cancer, go to the doctor for a diagnosis right away. When you have the right diagnosis, you can begin treatment right away to prevent the condition from getting worse. Read more about how to stay healthy and how to treat hemorrhoids HERE.