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The cause of cancer of the colon and rectum isn't known, but it's believed that the disease is associated with a diet high in fat and low in fiber (roughage). Not surprisingly, some colorectal cancer risk factors include that it is more common in Western countries, where the diet tends to be highly refined, with less roughage. People over age 50 are more susceptible, and African-American men have a slightly higher risk. Anyone with a personal or family history of colorectal cancer, polyps in the colon, or ulcerative colitis is at particularly high risk and exposure to asbestos has been identified as a risk factor.