People who are at high risk of developing colorectal cancer due to genetic factors need to stay away from snacks. A new study has found that junk food like chips increases the risk of colorectal cancer.

Lynch syndrome, also called hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC), is a condition where some people are genetically predisposed to developing cancers of the large intestine and rectum. People with lynch syndrome are also at high risk of developing cancers of stomach, small intestine, liver, gallbladder ducts, upper urinary tract, brain, skin, and prostate. Women with this condition may suffer from cancers that affect the uterus and ovaries. In the U.S., 160,000 new cases of colorectal cancer are diagnosed every year; 2 percent to 7 percent of which are caused by the syndrome.

Previous studies on the effects of food on increasing cancer risk among people with lynch syndrome have established that processed meat and alcohol may be harmful to the health of these people. The present study sought to find out if lifestyles of these people affected their overall risk of developing colorectal cancer.

The study included 486 individuals with lynch syndrome. After 20 months, precancerous lesions or colorectal polyps were found in 58 study participants.

"We saw that Lynch syndrome patients who had an eating pattern with higher intakes of snack foods-like fast food snacks, chips, or fried snacks-were twice as likely to develop these polyps as Lynch syndrome patients having a pattern with lower intakes of snack foods," said Akke Botma, PhD, one of the study authors from the Wageningen University in the Netherlands, according to Medical Xpress.

Avoiding junk food may not prevent these precancerous lesions from occurring. However, eating less of junk food might lower the polyps.

"Unfortunately, this does not mean that eating a diet low in snack foods will prevent any polyps from developing, but it might mean that those Lynch syndrome patients who eat a lot of snack foods might have more polyps than if they ate less snack foods," said Dr. Botma.

Past studies from the research team found a link between obesity and increased risk of developing colorectal cancer. So, even though people can't change their genetic susceptibility to prevent cancers from occurring, they can reduce the risk by adopting a healthier lifestyle.

The study is published in the journal Cancer.