People who smoke are more likely to develop the colorectal polyps that can precede colon cancer. Researchers at Texas analysed the medical records of 1,232 consecutive patients attending for colonoscopy. They found the incidence of polyps - growths in the colon or rectum that may precede cancer - to be greater among current smokers than in ex-smokers and non-smokers.
Moreover, the smokers were more likely to have more than two polyps, growths greater than one centimeter in diameter, or polyps that had a greater potential for turning cancerous. Current advice is that people with average risk have colonoscopy screening from age 55. On the basis of this new study, the researchers wonder if smokers should start screening earlier.