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Study: Men at higher risk for colon cancer

Men carry a higher risk of colon cancer than women and should get their first colonoscopy to screen for the disease at age 45, five years earlier than the current recommendation, according to a study published yesterday.

Researchers found that men were 1.8 times more likely than women to have advanced adenomas, polyps or lesions most susceptible to turning malignant, and twice as likely to have colon cancer.

The findings also showed that men got precancerous polyps and colon cancers 10 years earlier than women, according to the study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

More than 141,000 people in the United States will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer this year and almost 50,000 will die from it, according to the American Cancer Society. The numbers of men who get colon cancer and die from the disease are about 35 percent to 40 percent higher than women, according to the cancer society.

"We have to create awareness for the sex-specific differences and have to underline the value of early screening colonoscopy," said Monika Ferlitsch, lead author of the study and associate professor of medicine at the Medical University of Vienna, in an email Monday.

Ferlitsch said men have higher rates of colon cancer and precursor lesions, or polyps, than women because of a combination of lifestyle causes and genetics.

Women should still get their first colonoscopy at age 50, the current recommendation, she said.

Joel Brill, of Phoenix, chief medical officer of the American Gastroenterological Association's Digestive Health Outcomes Registry, said that there may be a benefit for starting colon cancer screenings earlier, though yesterday's study alone shouldn't change at what age screening begins based on gender.

-- Bloomberg News