Removal of polyps can actually prevent colorectal cancer from developing. Once a polyp is removed, it is very unlikely to recur, but people who have developed one polyp often go on to develop additional polyps. Thus, patients who are found to have one polyp are usually advised to have frequent colonoscopies, such as every three to five years instead of the usual recommendation of one every ten years.
Although genetics do play a strong role in the development of polyps, other modifiable risk factors have been identified. Losing weight, exercising regularly, and avoiding charred and processed meats (namely, charred steaks, cured hot dogs and bacon, and processed lunch meats) can reduce the risk of developing polyps and colorectal cancer. Smoking and excessive alcohol use have also been strongly linked to an increased risk of developing polyps and colorectal cancer.