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Unexplained Weight Loss as a Sign of Colon Cancer

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Updated: March 2, 2008

Many of us wouldn't want to question unexplained weight loss. We'd just be happy to be losing weight! Though the prospect of losing weight without even trying may seem like a blessing, it really is something to question. It's the old "if it sounds too good to be true..." idea.

Reasons for Unintentional Weight Loss

Possible causes of unintentional weight loss include depression, frequent diarrhea, hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid gland), infection, poor nutrition, AIDS, and cancer. If you're trying to figure out why someone else is losing weight unintentionally, you may also want to look into drug abuse, eating disorders, and smoking.

Unexplained Weight Loss and Colon Cancer

Tumors are their own life form. They require a blood supply and energy to grow, and they also release their own waste products. Since they're living inside you, tumors use your blood and nutrients, and release their waste products inside your body. You're unlikely to notice the diversion of blood and nutrients, but sometimes tumors release chemicals that increase the body's metabolism (such as burn calories faster), which can lead to unexplained weight loss.

Medical Attention for Unexplained Weight Loss

According to the National Institutes of Health, adults should consult a medical professional if they've lost more than 5% of their body weight over the past 6 to 12 months without trying. (That would be about 10 pounds for a 200-pound person.) You should also call your doctor if you experience unexplained weight loss in conjunction with other potential colon cancer symptoms.

Related Articles:

Sources:

"About Colorectal Cancer: Symptoms." Colon Cancer Alliance. Accessed 3 Sep. 2007 [http://www.ccalliance.org/about/symptoms/symptoms.html].

"Colon Cancer: Signs and Symptoms." Mayo Clinic 17 Aug. 2007. Accessed 3 Sep. 2007 [http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/colon-cancer/DS00035/DSECTION=2].

"Signs and Symptoms of Cancer." American Cancer Society 28 Feb. 2006. Accessed 3 Sep. 2007 [http://www.cancer.org/docroot/CRI/content/CRI_2_4_3X_What_are_the_signs_and_symptoms_of_cancer.asp?sitearea=].

"Weight Loss -- Unintentional." National Institutes of Health 22 Jan. 2007. Accessed 3 Sep. 2007 [http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003107.htm].

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